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G.C.M.G., C.B.,D.LITT., ETC., 


THE chief object of this work is to provide material for 
study of the affiliations of the Japanese language, and, 
in so far as philological evidence is of value, for inquiry into 
the origins of the Japanese race ; but it has been so planned 
as to be, I hope, of interest to students of general linguistic 
theory. I trust also that advanced students of Japanese, 
especially those who wish to read early and medieval texts, 
will find it useful as a work of reference ; and even those 
who are concerned only with the modern spoken and written 
languages will, I believe, find many of their difficulties 
removed by gaining some knowledge of the development of 
grammatical forms and the growth of common idioms. 

The question of the racial origins of the people now 
inhabiting the Japanese archipelago has not yet been solved. 
Recently much attention has been paid to the Polynesian, 
as opposed to the 'Ural-Altaic' theory, but the philological 
arguments on both sides have as a rule been based on incom- 
plete data so far as concerns the vocabulary and grammatical 
structure of the Japanese language in its earliest known 
stages. In the following pages an attempt is made to remedy 
this deficiency, and I have purposely confined myself to a 
purely descriptive treatment, without conscious bias towards 
either theory, leaving it to comparative philologists to make 
use of the material supplied. It was my intention to furnish 
as an appendix an annotated vocabulary of Japanese in its 
earliest known forms, but the lists which I had compiled 
were, unfortunately, destroyed in the great earthquake of 
1923. There exists, however, in the Transactions of the 
Asiatic Society of Japan (vol. xvi, pp. 225-85) a list compiled 
by Messrs. Chamberlain and Ueda which, I believe, requires 
but little revision in the light of recent research. 

The chief sources used for the following study were the 
treatises of the great pre-Restoration grammarians such as 
Motoori and Mabuchi and their annotated texts of the earliest 


records and anthologies ; the indispensable studies of Aston, 
Chamberlain, and Satow, those great pioneer scholars, to 
whom all Western students owe praise and thanks ; various 
modern text-books on Japanese grammar ; and compilations 
made under the auspices of the Department of Education, 
such as the complete analysis of the vocabulary and gram- 
matical structure of the Heike Monogatari, published in two 
volumes, of 1,000 pages each, in 1913. 1 

Of all these, I am most indebted to the works of Professor 
Yamada Koyii, whose great thesis on Japanese grammar 
( 2fc 3£ ^ ffr) and studies of the language of the Nara, 
Heian, and Kamakura periods are amazing monuments of 
learning and industry. 

The examples of Japanese given in the course of the work 
are taken, in the case of classical and medieval usages, from 
the best available texts, and in the case of modern usages 
from the Readers published by the Department of Education 
or from newspapers and other contemporary documents. 

G. B. S. 
The British Embassy, 

1 I regret that I have been unable to make use of recently dis- 
covered MSS. of the Heike Monogatari, which show that the work 
as usually known is refashioned from texts in an earlier language. 

Preface .... 



I. I. Introduction of Writing 

2. Further development of the Script 

and the 




representation of Japanese sounds 

3. Later developments of the language, and 
divergence between spoken and written forms 51 

II. The Substantive . . . .69 

The Pronoun, 71. Demonstrative pronouns, 
73. Interrogative pronouns, 74. Indefinite 
pronouns, 75. Historical development of pro- 
noun, 76. Possessive pronouns, 80. Relative 
Pronouns, 81. Numerals, 82. Number in the 
substantive, 85. 

III. Predicative Words . . . .88 

Verbs and adjectives, and their simple con- 
jugation . . . . .90 

IV. The Adjective . . . . .98 

Inflected adjectives, 98. Auxiliary adjectives, 
109. Uninflected adjectives, 117. 

V. The Verb ..... 126 

I. Simple conjugation, 126 : Stem, 129. Pre- 
dicative form, 130. Attributive form, 133. 
Conjunctive form, 137. ' Imperfect ' or 
negative base form, 140. Perfect form, 142. 
Imperative, 145. Substantival forms in -ku, 
147. Development of conjugations, 151. 
3270 b 


V. The Verb (continued) : 

II. Compound Conjugation, 156 : Suffixes de- 
noting voice or aspect, 158. Suffixes form- 
ing causative verbs, 164. Suffixes denoting 
tense, &c, 173. Negative suffixes, 190. Un- 
infected verb suffixes, 196. Transitive and 
intransitive verbs, 199. 

VI. The Auxiliary verbs aru and suru . . 202 

Other auxiliary verbs . . .221 

VII. The Particles ..... 223 

Case particles, 224. Adverbial particles, 255. 
Conjunctive particles, 272. Exclamatory 
particles, 280. 

VIII. The Adverb .... 

IX. The Formation of Words 
X. Grammatical Functions 

XI. Syntax .... 

Appendix. Comparison of spoken and written forms 





IN describing the development of the Japanese language 
it is convenient to divide it into stages corresponding to 
periods usually distinguished by Japanese historians ; and 
this method is particularly suitable because those periods 
coincide approximately with well-marked cultural phases. 

The earliest period to furnish written records of the lan- 
guage is the Nara period, coinciding roughly with the eighth 
century a. d., when the Court was at Nara. Works now 
extant which may be assigned to that period are : 

i. The Kojiki, or 'Record of Ancient Matters', completed 
in a. d. 713. A description of this chronicle, and some 
remarks on the evidential value of its text as reconstructed, 
will be found in Chapter I, pp. 15 et seq. Whatever doubts 
may be cast upon the reconstructed prose text, there is no 
doubt that the poems in the Kojiki are most valuable 
material. They represent the language of A. D. 700 at latest, 
and it is highly probable, since they bear every mark of 
antiquity, that they had already at that date been preserved 
by oral tradition for several centuries. 

2. The Nihongi, or 'Chronicles of Japan', completed in 
a. d. 720. Only the poems and a few scattered sentences in 
this work are of value. 

3. The Manyoshu, or 'Collection of a Myriad Leaves', an 
anthology of Japanese verse completed early in the ninth 
century a. d. , and containing some poems which go back at least 
as far as the late seventh century. Not all these poems are 
directly available as specimens of early forms of Japanese, 
since they are not all written phonetically ; but by collation 
with other poems in the same collection, and by reference 
back to the poems of the Kojiki and Nihongi, it is possible 
to reconstruct a great proportion of the native verse of the 
Nara period with a high degree of certainty. 

4. The Shoku Nihongi, a continuation of the Nihongi, 
completed in 797. This work contains certain Imperial 
edicts in pure Japanese, and their texts can be restored 
with considerable accuracy. For translation and notes, see 


5. The Engishiki, or ' Institutes of the Engi Period ', a code 
of ceremonial law promulgated in 927. This contains a num- 
ber of Shinto rituals, such as purifications and prayers for 
harvest, &c, which are evidently of great antiquity. There 
is strong internal evidence to show that these rituals belong 
to the Nara period at latest, and it is almost certain that 
they are among the oldest extant specimens of Japanese 
prose. For translation and notes, see Satow, T. A. S. J., 
vol. vii, of 1879. 

In addition to the above there are certain family records 
(R 3fc) an d topographical records (Jig, J^ 12) which contain 
fragmentary material, but altogether it amounts to very 
little. There is only one stone monument of the Nara period 
bearing an inscription in Japanese — the so-called ' Footprint 
of Buddha ' (Bussokuseki) near Nara. All other inscriptions 
of that time are in Chinese. Unfortunately for philologists, 
so strong was the influence of Chinese learning in the eighth 
century that all the documents deposited by the Nara Court 
in the storehouse called the Shosoin, and marvellously pre- 
served until to-day, contain not more than a few dozen lines 
of Japanese. 

It will be seen from the foregoing account that the material 
for a grammar and vocabulary of Japanese of the Nara period 
is scanty, and that the bulk of it is in the form of poetry. 
Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that our knowledge 
of the earliest forms of the language depends chiefly upon 
the Manyoshu. 

Following the Nara period comes the Heian period, so 
called because the centre of government was now at Heian-jo, 
the modern Kyoto. In the three centuries and more (a. d. 
800-1186) comprised by this period there is no lack of 
material (vide Chapter I, pp. 53 et seq.). To it belong several 
important anthologies of verse, such as the Kokinshu ; 
romances, such as the Genji Monogatari ; diaries and miscel- 
lanies, such as the Tosa Nikki and the Makura no Soshi ; 
and a number of historical works such as the Sandai Jitsu- 
roku. From these it is easy enough to fix with certainty the 
forms of written Japanese. What is difficult, however, is to 
trace, in its earlier stages, the divergence between the spoken 
and written languages. There is no doubt that it progressed 
during this period, for there are important differences be- 


tween the language of the verse anthologies and the more 
serious historical works on the one hand, and the diaries, 
miscellanies, and romances on the other. But it is impos- 
sible, at least in the present state of our knowledge, to follow 
step by step the development of more than a few spoken 
forms. There are in the large mass of written material 
only occasional passages of undoubted dialogue or reported 
speech. Moreover, the general tendency of writers has always 
been to give a literary form to reported speech. This is 
particularly true of Far Eastern countries, where the written 
word is held in high respect, and where the system of writing 
in use is ill-adapted to phonetic recording. Thanks, how- 
ever, to the development during the Heian period of the 
kana syllabary, it is possible to discern some differences, 
which can safely be ascribed to changes in pronunciation. 
Thus when we find in, say, the Genji Monogatari words 
hitherto written yoki and utsukushiku appearing as yoi and 
utsukushiii, we may assume that the latter forms represented 
contemporary pronunciation ; and further, seeing that the 
older forms are preserved in verse and in other works of 
the same date, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the 
language of the Genji Monogatari was substantially the same 
as the cultivated speech current in its writer's day. 

The Heian period was succeeded by the Kamakura period 
(i 186-1332), during which the country was controlled by 
a military autocracy. Here again there is ample material 
for the study of written forms, but very little exact evidence 
as to the development of the spoken language. All we can 
say is that while the Court at Kyoto remained the centre of 
the ancient culture, the military aristocracy and its adherents 
developed in another part of the country on other and less 
conservative lines, and consequently we find, in addition to 
literature based on classical models as to style and voca- 
bulary, a number of works, particularly war tales and other 
romances, which are plainly under the influence of the con- 
temporary spoken language. Unfortunately, while allowing 
us to make the general inference that the colloquial had by 
now considerably diverged from the spoken language, they 
do not furnish much evidence as to the details of this 

Similar remarks apply to the next, Namboku and Muro- 


machi periods (1332-1603), though it is probable that by 
working backwards and forwards from a detailed study ad 
hoc of its documents a good deal of information could be 
gained as to the development of modern colloquial forms. 
The Yedo period (1603-1867), especially towards its close, 
witnessed a revival of learning, and a return to classical 
models of the Heian period, but this was artificial and could 
not survive, though it was not without influence on the 
written language. The spoken language meanwhile de- 
veloped apace on its own lines, and by the middle of the 
nineteenth century the two languages presented almost as 
many differences as resemblances. 

In the following study of the development of the Japanese 
language, it has been necessary for reasons of space as well 
as simplicity to concentrate on a description of the earliest 
and the latest forms — those of the Nara and Heian periods 
and of the present day — without paying much attention to 
the intervening stages. 

In compiling a grammar of any Eastern language one is 
confronted at once by difficulties of classification and nomen- 
clature. The traditional terminology of grammars of modern 
European languages, unsatisfactory in itself, is unsuitable 
and misleading when applied to a language like Japanese, 
which has grown up under the influence of concepts and per- 
cepts that do not correspond to those which form the basis 
of European speech. At the same time one cannot accept 
without change the principles of the great native gram- 
marians, who, remarkable as they were by their erudition 
and industry, knew no language but their own and were 
therefore ignorant of general linguistic theory. Consequently 
in the following pages I have been obliged to compromise, 
by following the Japanese practice where it seemed advan- 
tageous and eking it out with the categories of European 


Examples taken from early texts are marked as follows 








The Imperial Edicts or Rescripts in 

the Shoku-Nihongi 

Kok. or Kokin. 



Taketori Monogatari 


Ise Monogatari 

G. or Gen. 

Genji Monogatari 


Heike Monogatari 


Makura no Soshi 

T. A.S.J. 

Transactions of the Asiatic Society 

of Japan 

§ I. The Introduction of Writing 

NOTHING is known with certainty as to the origins of 
the Japanese language. It has hitherto usually been 
considered to belong to the group variously known as Altaic 
or Finno-Ugrian, chiefly on the ground of structural resem- 
blance to other members of that group. It shows a strong 
structural likeness to Korean, but very little likeness in 
vocabulary. Recent investigations tend to disclose certain 
similarities in structure and vocabulary between Japanese 
and the Malay-Polynesian languages, but the evidence so far 
produced is not sufficient to establish any theory claiming 
a Polynesian origin for the Japanese race or the Japanese 

The only language to which it is safe to assert that 
Japanese is closely related is Luchuan. Here the resemblance 
is so complete that Luchuan can be only a dialect of Japanese, 
and its vocabulary and syntax therefore provide no indica- 
tion of the origin of either language. A study of Luchuan 
is, however, of value in building up hypotheses as to the 
forms of the archaic language from which the Japanese of 
the earliest known period and the Luchuan variations thereof 
are both descended. 

Apart from such conjectures, our knowledge of early forms 
of Japanese is derived from writings of the beginning of the 
eighth century of our era, which will be presently described. 
There is no trace of any system of writing in Japan prior to 
the introduction of Chinese books, which may be put approxi- 
mately at A. d. 400 ; and it was not until the sixth century, 
with the gradual spread of Buddhism, that the study of 
Chinese became in any sense general. Once the Japanese 
became acquainted with the Chinese system of writing it was 
possible, though not by any means easy, for them to make 
use of that system to represent words in their own language. 
For reasons of pedantry as well as convenience, as a rule 
they preferred to neglect their own language and write in 


Chinese, much as learned men in Europe at one time used 
Latin ; but luckily for philologists they did elect to per- 
petuate, by using Chinese characters as phonetic symbols, 
the native form of certain poems, tales, and records which 
had hitherto been preserved only by oral tradition. It is 
these texts which furnish us with the materials for the study 
of archaic Japanese. 

For a proper understanding of the extent and accuracy 
of the information as to early Japanese forms which can be 
derived from such documents, it is necessary to study in 
some detail the system of writing developed by the Japanese. 
Moreover, since the adoption of the Chinese script had a 
great influence upon both vocabulary and constructions in 
Japanese, it is important to trace, at least in outline, the 
growth of that system. 

The unit in Chinese writing is a symbol which, through 
a curious but pardonable confusion of thought, is usually 
styled an ideograph, but is much more accurately described 
as a logograph. It is a symbol which represents a word, as 
contrasted with symbols which, like the letters of an alphabet 
or a syllabary, represent sounds or combinations of sounds. 
It is true that the first Chinese characters were pictorial, and 
that a great number of the later characters have a pictorial 
element, and to that extent may be said to represent ideas. 
But in fully nine-tenths of the characters now in use the 
pictorial element is either secondary or completely lacking, 
and the phonetic element is predominant. A simple charac- 
ter like ^ (moon) retains some vestiges of its pictorial 
quality, and may be said to represent the idea ' moon ', but 
nevertheless it stands for the Chinese word for moon (how- 
ever that word may be pronounced at different points in 
time and space — e. g. ngwet in about a. d. 500, and yue in 
Peking, ut in Canton to-day) . When we come to more com- 
plex characters, it is clear that their formation not only 
presupposes the existence of a word, but is governed by the 
sound of that word. Thus, though ■% Jang, meaning ' square ', 
may at one time have been ideographic, tfj fang, ' to ask ', 
is composed of a phonetic element ~}j fang and a sense ele- 
ment "b, 'to speak', and does not directly represent the idea 
of 'to ask', but the word fang, which is the Chinese word 
for ' to ask '. When they wished to construct a character to 


represent fang, 'to ask', the Chinese took the sign "jj, which 
stands for the word fang, 'square ', and to avoid confusion 
with this and other words pronounced fang, they added the 
' radical ' jf , which conveys the idea of speaking. 

A Chinese character, as used by the Chinese, is then an 
ideograph only inasmuch as any written symbol or group of 
symbols in any language is an ideograph ; but it stands for 
a word, and for one word only. I have insisted upon this 
point because, as we shall see later, the Japanese method 
of using the Chinese characters does at times approach an 
ideographic use. 

Before describing more fully the Japanese method, it is 
as well to state briefly the problem which the first Japanese 
scholars had before them when they came to consider how 
to make use of the Chinese script for recording their native 
words. A simple example will suffice. The character \ 
stands for jen, the Chinese word for ' man '. The Japanese 
word for 'man' is hito, and a Japanese might agree to let 
the character \ be read by himself and his compatriots as 
hito, thus establishing \ as the conventional sign for hito. 
But there would still remain the problem of representing the 
sound of the word hito, and there were reasons which made 
it often essential to represent the sound rather than the 
meaning of Japanese words — reasons which may for the 
moment be summarized by stating that while Chinese was 
monosyllabic and uninflected Japanese was polysyllabic and 
highly inflected. To write by means of Chinese characters 
the sound of a Japanese word, it was necessary to represent 
separately the elements composing that sound. Now by the 
fifth century Chinese had become a monosyllabic language, 
and since each syllable in Chinese was a word, there was 
a logograph for each syllable, and often of course many 
logographs for the same syllable. Consequently, when the 
Japanese wished to write the sound hito, they had in the 
Chinese symbols a ready means of representing the syllables 
of which it was composed, and they had no reason to analyse 
those syllables further into their constituent vowel and con- 
sonant sounds. This point has a considerable bearing upon 
the study of early Japanese forms, but it may for the moment 
be neglected. 

To write, then, the syllable hi of hito, the writer must find 


a Chinese character standing for some Chinese word of which 
the pronunciation was the same as, or as near as possible to, 
the Japanese sound hi. He would find, for instance, the 
characters J£ , ^, f£, fa, representing Chinese words mean- 
ing respectively 'sort', 'not', 'grief, and 'ice', but all pro- 
nounced hi or something like hi. 1 Similarly with the syllable 
to. He could use such characters as JJ, S\-, ^, and many 
others, all representing Chinese words of different meanings, 
but uniformly pronounced to. Thus, to write the word hito 
he could use any of the combinations Jrfc J], Jrb ^, Jfc -V> 
f? 71) ^B ^£> &c. Therefore in applying the Chinese script 
to the Japanese language, two methods were available 
which may be conveniently described as the semantic and 
the phonetic methods. The first method indicates the mean- 
ing of a Japanese word, the second method indicates its 
sound. The modern Japanese system of writing is a com- 
bination of these two methods, and we must now proceed to 
trace its development in outline, for, though an account of 
the script used to represent a language may appear to be out 
of place in a study of its grammar, the Chinese language was 
so much more highly developed, so much richer in vocabulary 
and scope, than Japanese of the archaic period, that the 
adoption of the Chinese script was naturally accompanied 
by important changes in the Japanese language. 

Though there is some doubt as to exact dates, it is pretty 
certain that chief among the first Chinese books brought to 
Japan were the Thousand Character Classic ("f* ^ j£) and 
the Confucian Analects (!& gg-), followed very shortly by 
Chinese versions of and commentaries upon the Buddhist 
Scriptures. The Japanese scholars, when reading the Chinese 
classics, would no doubt at first be guided only by the sense 
of the Chinese symbols, which they had previously learned, 
character by character, from their instructors ; and since 
the Chinese logograph can convey to the eye any meaning 
conventionally assigned to it, irrespective of the sound by 
which it may be known, it would be possible for the Japanese 
scholar to read a passage of Chinese without knowing how 

1 To simplify matters I assume here that the Chinese and Japanese 
sounds were both hi, though at the period in question one or both 
may have been pi. The principle under discussion is, of course, not 
affected by such an assumption. 


it was pronounced in Chinese, and without consciously con- 
verting the Chinese symbols into Japanese words. Thus, to 
take a simple passage from the Analects : ^^-— -""" , ■■■-- \ 

child VMSlXr 

speak 9c^4 

king )CM, J, 

child * So vi o\ 

weight if 

a Japanese student of Chinese might take in the meaning 
of the characters without definitely translating them into 
words, either Chinese or Japanese. But to retain in the 
mind the meanings assigned to a large number of characters 
requires a very great effort of visual memory. It is in 
practice an aid both to memory and to understanding to 
associate sounds with signs, and therefore it was customary 
to read Chinese texts aloud, as we may infer from the habit, 
which persists among both Japanese and Chinese to this day, 
of reciting to themselves whatever they read, in tones varying 
according to the individual from a gentle murmur to a loud 
chant. Consequently it was for practical purposes necessary 
for Japanese readers to assign sounds to the Chinese charac- 
ters which they read ; and it was open to them either to use 
the Chinese sound of the word represented by the character 
or to say the Japanese word which conveyed the same, or 
approximately the same, meaning as that Chinese word. If 
they merely repeated the Chinese sounds, then what they 
recited was not intelligible to a hearer, because (owing to 
the great number of homophones in Chinese) the sound alone, 
without the visual aid of the character, is more often than 
not insufficient to convey a meaning even to a Chinese, while 
a Japanese whose knowledge of Chinese was by force of cir- 
cumstance chiefly derived through the eye and not the ear 
would be even more at a loss. Add to this the difficulty 
that the order of words in Chinese — indeed, the whole gram- 
matical structure — is in almost every respect the opposite of 
Japanese, and it is clear that for practical purposes some 


arrangement had to be made to facilitate the reading of 
Chinese texts by Japanese students who, while visually 
acquainted with a number of Chinese symbols, were not 
familiar with Chinese sounds and Chinese grammar. 

These were the important considerations which guided the 
Japanese in building up a system by which they could adapt 
the Chinese characters to their own needs, and they led to 
results which must surely be unique in the history of 
language. The problem differed somewhat according to the 
nature of the Chinese text in use, for in the period just after 
the introduction of writing into Japan the Chinese books 
chiefly studied by the Japanese fell into two well-marked 
divisions. On the one hand they had the Chinese classics — 
works written in pure Chinese, where (as in the specimen 
from the Analects given above) every character had a mean- 
ing or at least a grammatical function. On the other hand 
they had the Buddhist Scriptures, written, it is true, in 
Chinese characters, but containing a great deal of phonetic 
transcription of Sanskrit words. 

In reading the Chinese classics, the sound did not matter 
to the Japanese student. The important thing was to appre- 
ciate the meaning and to convey it to others. Now it must 
be understood that for one Japanese to convey to another 
in writing the meaning of a Chinese text was not at that 
period a question of translation as we understand it. Since 
the Japanese had no system of writing of their own, for a 
Japanese to be able to read any writing whatever presup- 
posed in those days a knowledge of the Chinese written 
character, and therefore a greater or less knowledge of the 
sounds and meanings ascribed to those characters by the 
Chinese themselves. What was needed, then, for the full 
comprehension by a Japanese of a Chinese text was not a 
change of the symbols, or the words for which they stood, 
but rather a rearrangement of the symbols to accord with 
Japanese syntax. The separate ideas conveyed by Chinese 
characters were clear enough to a Japanese who had learned 
them by rote, but he would not understand their aggregate 
meaning unless he was familiar with the Chinese method of 
grouping and connecting ideas. Therefore, for the benefit 
of the less learned, the more learned Japanese (and doubtless 
their Chinese and Korean teachers) devised a system of 


reading the characters by giving some their Chinese sounds 
and some their Japanese meaning, taking them as far as 
possible in the order of words natural to Japanese, and sup- 
plying orally the inflexions, particles, and so on, necessary 
in Japanese to show the relations between words. Thus, 
they would take the sentence quoted on page 5 from the 
Analects and give to its characters the following readings 
in the order shown — the words in capitals being the native 
Chinese sounds (or, more strictly, the Japanese approximation 
thereto), those in italics being the Japanese equivalents of 
the Chinese words, with inflexions added where necessary : 

1. £j^ SHI The Master (i. e. Confucius) 

2/fi) . iwaku____ r __^- says v^i 

3 ' ^ X~KUNSHI a gentleman-^ 

5. ^ arazareba if there is not 
4. jf; omoku gravity 

6. $ij sunahachi then 
8. jf> narazu is not 

7. Jg£ / respected 

meaning ' Confucius said : "A gentleman in order to be 
respected must be serious ".' 

It will be noticed that, though the English order of words 
corresponds closely to the Chinese, the Japanese order in- 
volves a rearrangement. The substantives in Chinese re- 
main in their Chinese form (SHI, KUNSHI, and /), but the 
remaining words, which in Chinese are uninflected mono- 
syllables whose function is determined by position, are con- 
verted into inflected Japanese words or particles. The simple 
negative ^ FU, for instance, becomes the compound verbal 
form arazareba, a negative conditional. In other words, the 
Chinese characters give the skeleton of a statement, and it 
is clothed in an elaborate grammatical robe of Japanese 
texture, composed of moods, tenses, and other intricacies to 
which Chinese is so magnificently superior. The process as 
thus described sounds exceedingly difficult, as indeed it was ; 
but, making due allowance for the nature of the script, it 
does not in essence vary much from the method of literal 
translation followed by schoolboys when construing Latin 


The practical objections to such a system are obvious. It 
was hard for a reader to tell in what order the characters 
were to be read ; what characters, if any, were to be taken 
together ; which were to be given the Chinese sound and 
which were to be converted into Japanese words. To 
diminish these difficulties as far as possible, Japanese 
students of Chinese texts resorted to the use of diacritics, 
combining them with a system of markings (equivalent to 
the numerals and brackets in the example) to show the order 
and grouping of the characters. This is not the place to 
describe these devices in full, but the general principle may 
be outlined as follows : 

Each Chinese symbol is regarded as being enclosed in a 
square, and certain dots (ten) or strokes at various points of 
this imaginary square represent, according to a fixed, though 
quite arbitrary, arrangement, flexional terminations, suffixes, 
particles, &c, which in reading are supplied orally after the 
reading of the character. Thus, according to one such 
scheme, which can be represented diagrammatically : 





() TO 





if we take the character & ('fear') and fix as its equivalent 
the Japanese word ' kashikomi' , then 

& kashikomite (a gerund) 

kashikomu koto (the act of fearing) 
kashikomitari (past tense) 

It is highly probable that this method of dia- 
critics was suggested by the marks used by the Chinese to 
indicate the tones of Chinese words. 1 

1 It is one of these schemes which accounts for the word ' Teni- 
woha ' , used by Japanese grammarians as a generic term for particles 
and other parts of speech which are neither nouns, adjectives, or 

and so on. 


It was a clumsy method, and obviously not fitted for 
general use, but it survived in a remarkable way, partly 
because the Japanese language, though rich in forms, was 
poor in vocabulary, and it was therefore essential to pre- 
serve a large number of Chinese words which could not be 
satisfactorily translated into Japanese. The word kunshi 
^ ^ is a case in point. In the Analects it had a special 
meaning — 'the scholar-gentleman' — which could not be ex- 
pressed in Japanese, and consequently kunshi was adopted 
as a Japanese word, one of the forerunners of the multitude 
of Chinese words which now form the greater part of the 
vocabulary of Japanese. Nor was the adoption confined to 
single units of the vocabulary. Many constructions and 
grammatical devices in Chinese could not be exactly repro- 
duced in Japanese, and were often borrowed with little or no 
change, either because it was difficult to find an equivalent 
or because they were a convenient addition to the gram- 
matical apparatus of Japanese. The sentence quoted above 
provides a good illustration. Shi iwaku, ' the Master says ', 
is a Chinese construction, while the pure Japanese idiom 
requires a verb like 'to say' at the end, not the beginning, 
of a reported speech. But the Chinese method was incor- 
porated into Japanese syntax, and a construction similar to 
that of shi iwaku, &c, has survived until to-day. 

There was another powerful reason for the survival of the 
diacritic method. Its very difficulty was a merit in the eyes 
of the learned men who used it, and the leading schools of 
Chinese studies, as well as some Buddhist sects, each had 
their own system or systems of markings, which they kept 
secret and imparted only to their disciples. It is a curious 
instance of the esoteric habit which prevailed, and is still 
discernible, in art and letters in the East. 

The use of diacritic markings might have continued in- 
definitely had it not been for the growth of another system 

verbs. Te, ni, wo, ha were the four words at the corners of a system 
called ' wo koto ten ', represented by 

Nit fVVO 





which was more convenient in many respects. This was the 
phonetic system of writing Japanese words, which we have 
already briefly described. The semantic system grew out of 
the need to convey to the mind of a Japanese reader the 
meaning of the Chinese work he was studying. But there 
were a great number of works in reading which it was 
essential to know the sound of the characters. Chief among 
these were the Chinese translations of the Buddhist sacred 
writings, in which there were many Sanskrit names and 
Sanskrit terms which could be rendered into Chinese only by 
a phonetic method. The Chinese, in fact, had several cen- 
turies before the Japanese been confronted with the problem 
of applying the logographic script of a monosyllabic language 
to the phonetic transcription of a polysyllabic language 
entirely different in grammatical structure. How, for 
instance, were the Chinese to translate from Sanskrit into 
their own language not only Indian names of places and 
persons, but also the terminology of the sacred writings 
which represented religious and philosophical ideas entirely 
foreign to them ? The phonetic method was the only pos- 
sible solution, and the history of the development of a system 
of transcribing Sanskrit letters and sounds by means of 
Chinese characters is a fascinating one. Here it is not neces- 
sary to describe it at length, but some acquaintance with 
the method used is necessary for a proper understanding of 
the origin and growth of the system eventually worked out 
by the Japanese. 

If we take the great Lotus Sutra as a typical example, 
we can see at once what difficulties the translator had to 
surmount. Its very title, Saddharma Pundarika, was difficult 
to render, and in the first translation extant (Nanjo 136) an 
attempt is made at a phonetic rendering, by means of the 
characters g| j| xfc [?£ f ij, which stand for Chinese words 
pronounced respectively something like sa, dan, pan, do, and 
li} Reading these characters together, and paying no atten- 
tion to their meaning, we have Sadan ftandoli, which is a 
rough approximation to Saddharma Pundarika, but of course 
conveys no meaning to a Chinese reader ignorant of the 
original Sanskrit. This was clearly a makeshift method, and 

1 These are only approximate, and I do not pretend that they are 
the correct sounds of the Chinese words at the period in question. 


in later translations an attempt was made to reproduce the 
meaning of the Sanskrit words, by using the characters 
IE & ^ $£> pronounced Cheng Fa Hua Ching in modern 
Pekingese, but meaning True Law Flower Scripture. 

Coming now to the opening words of the Sutra, which 
state that 'once upon a time the Buddha was staying at 
Rajagriha on the Gridhrakuta Mountain with a numerous 
assemblage of monks', we see further difficulties before the 
Chinese translator. Place-names like Rajagriha and Gridhra- 
kuta have, it is true, some meaning, signifying respectively 
'The King's Castle' and 'The Vulture Peak', so that it was 
possible to represent them by Chinese characters standing 
for Chinese words of approximately the same meaning, viz. 
3E & $c King House Fort, for Rajagriha, and ^ UJ Eagle 
Mountain, for Gridhrakuta. For the Sanskrit word bhikshu 
(Pali, bhikkhu), usually rendered by 'monk', the Chinese 
translator might perhaps have invented some equivalent 
Chinese term, but since monks did not exist in China apart 
from Buddhism they preferred to adopt the Sanskrit word, 
which they reproduced phonetically by the two characters 
Jfc Jr. pronounced in Chinese pi k'iu. So far it might have 
been possible to find equivalents for the meanings of the 
words in the Sanskrit text, though it will be noticed that 
the very appellation of the Buddha himself raises in an 
acute form the question of selection between translation 
and transcription. Shall the translator use characters which 
signify 'enlightened' but may to the Chinese reader have 
misleading implications, or shall he use characters divorced 
from their meaning to represent as nearly as possible the 
sound Buddha ? * 

However, when we reach the later chapters of the Lotus, 
the difficulties of translation become insuperable, and there 
is no alternative to the phonetic method. Chapter XXI, 

1 The translators chose to use the character fjjj>, which in ancient 
Chinese was pronounced (according to Karlgren) b'jued. But Chinese 
pronunciation has changed in a way that the translators can hardly 
have foreseen, and the modern pronunciation in the Mandarin dialect 
of f$j is/o. The Japanese pronunciation butsu, which represents the 
Chinese sound at the time when it was borrowed — say, a. d. 400 — 
has survived unchanged, and is therefore nearer the Sanskrit original 
than modern Chinese. 


for instance, consists largely of spells or talismanic words 
(dhdrani) , such as anye, manye, mane, mamane, which cannot 
be translated any more than, say, abracadabra. Since these 
incantations were regarded as of great power and value, the 
translators of the Sutras were obliged to find phonetic equi- 
valents for them. So, in an early translation, the above 
words are represented by % H, ■§! UJ, fg, j$t J^ fgj 
where each character represents a syllable of the Sanskrit 
words and is used entirely without reference to its Chinese 

We see, then, that some system of phonetic transcription 
of the Sanskrit alphabet was essential, and that the Chinese 
were obliged to adapt their own script to this purpose. Had 
they carried further the process outlined above, they might 
from these beginnings have developed a simple alphabet or 
syllabary. This they failed to do, but we must at least give 
to the Chinese, and not to the Japanese, the credit for the 
first phonetic use of the Chinese character. Unfortunately, 
instead of establishing a uniform system of phonetic tran- 
scription, which might by gradual simplification have led to 
the formation of an alphabet, the Chinese translators seem 
to have deliberately chosen not only a difficult and irregular 
scheme of transcription but also a great variety of such 
schemes. Stanislas Julien in his masterly work on the sub- 
ject gives a list of 1,200 Chinese characters which were used 
to render the forty- two letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, in- 
cluding the combinations of the consonants with all the 
vowels and diphthongs, and this list is far from complete. 
Not only was a given Sanskrit letter represented by more 
than one Chinese character, but the same Chinese character 
was used to represent more than one Sanskrit letter. Thus, 
according to Julien, the Chinese characters ^, fp, fp, $gf, 
and \$, pronounced in Chinese cha, tsieh, chi, to, and che 
respectively, were all used to represent the symbol ^ da : 
while the character JJj, in Chinese che, is found standing for 
Sanskrit djha, dha, dya, dhya, and cha. 

With such models before them, it is not surprising that 
the Japanese were slow in developing a phonetic script of 
even relative simplicity. Their problem was not unlike that 
which had laced the Chinese translators of Buddhist writings, 
since they had to find Chinese characters to stand for the 


sounds in a polysyllabic language. It is hard to say when 
the first attempts were made by the Japanese to put their 
own language in writing. The earliest chronicles, such as 
the Kojiki and the Nihongi contain references to historical 
records of events in Japan preserved in writing. Thus, in 
the preface to the Kojiki, the author states that the Emperor 
Tenmu complained that ' the chronicles of the emperors and 
the original words in the possession of the various families' 
were inexact. We may infer from this that written records 
had existed long before the reign of Tenmu, which began 
in 673. 

In the Nihongi, under the date 403, the appointment of 
provincial historiographers is mentioned, but the chronology 
of this part of the Nihongi is dubious, and, since it is pretty 
certain that the first Chinese books l came to Japan not much 
sooner than a. d. 400, we may safely place the appointment 
of these recording officers several decades later. Their func- 
tion no doubt was in the nature of a cadastral survey, and 
they needed therefore no greater knowledge of writing than 
would suffice for compiling lists of families and possibly 
(since the Nihongi, under the date 405, mentions the forma- 
tion of a Treasury) lists of property and taxes. For this 
purpose it would be sufficient to write in Chinese, and there 
is no doubt that at first the clerical officials at the Court 
wrote their records and accounts in the Chinese language. 
It is specifically stated in the Nihongi that it was Wang-in 
and other learned Koreans who kept the first records of 
' ingoings and outcomings ' — the Imperial budget — and they 
naturally would use Chinese and not Japanese. But the pro- 
vincial recorders must have had to write down the Japanese 
names of places and persons, and we may suppose that, 
between a. d. 400 and 500, they evolved some system of 
transcription for that purpose, probably with the assistance 
of Wang-in or his colleagues or successors. It is not even 
necessary to assume that these Korean scholars were familiar 

1 It is probable that some knowledge of the Chinese language and 
script had reached Japan two or three centuries earlier, but it was 
doubtless confined to a very few people, who acted as interpreters 
between Japan and Korea. There is no indication that there were 
any records or books in Japan before the arrival of the Korean scribe 
Wang-in, which can hardly be placed earlier than a. d. 400. 


with the phonetic method used in the Chinese versions of the 
Buddhist Scriptures, for in their own country they must have 
already had to consider the question of writing by means of 
Chinese characters the names of persons and places in Korea. 1 
However that may be, it is tolerably certain that, by the end 
of the fifth century of our era, the Japanese had learned to 
make use of the Chinese characters as phonetic symbols for 
recording Japanese words. That their use in this way was 
restricted is clear from the existence of hereditary corpora- 
tions of reciters, mentioned in the Nihongi under the name 
of Kataribe. The precise duties of these officials is not known, 
but it is safe to assume that they committed to memory, for 
recitation at Court functions and religious festivals, prayers 
to the gods something like the Shinto rituals which have 
been preserved for us in the Engishiki, national legends, and 
possibly the commands of previous emperors. We may 
accept without much question the statement in the Kojiki 
that a certain Hiyeda no Are learned by heart in the latter 
half of the seventh century ' the genealogies of the emperors 
and the words of former ages '. Are is said to have had such 
an exceptional memory that he could ' repeat with his mouth 
whatever met his eyes and record in his heart whatever 
struck his ears'. We may therefore reasonably conclude 
that there existed at that period certain fragmentary records 
in writing, and that these were supplemented by oral tradi- 
tion ; that the records were for the most part in Chinese 
but contained phonetic reproductions of Japanese names and 
possibly of the native form of some prayers and poems which 
would come under the heading of 'ancient words'. 

The first Japanese book of which we find specific mention 
is the Kyujiki, which was compiled in A. d. 620, but this 

1 We know that Chinese scribes were employed, in countries 
bordering on China, from a very early date. There were Chinese 
' secretaries ' among the Tartar peoples in the North, and, though 
there can be no certainty as to dates in this matter, it is highly 
probable that there were scribes in Korea at least as early as the 
first century of the Christian era. It is significant that the recorded 
names of the early rulers of some Korean kingdoms, as written in 
Chinese characters, are evidently phonetic transcripts from a non- 
Chinese language. From about a. d. 400 onwards the characters 
have a meaning, and the names are obviously imitations of Chinese 


was destroyed in a. d. 645, and we have no knowledge of its 
contents beyond a statement in the Nihongi to the effect that 
it was a history of the emperors and the leading families. 
The oldest existing Japanese book is the Kojiki, or Record 
of Ancient Matters, which was completed in A. d. 712. It 
is a long and consecutive history of Japan, commencing with 
the creation of Heaven and Earth, and proceeding, in an 
ascending scale of credibility, to the year a. d. 628. That 
the compiler of the Kojiki was under strong Chinese influence 
is abundantly clear from internal evidence. His preface is, 
as Chamberlain points out, a tour de force meant to show 
that the writer could compose in the Chinese style if he chose 
to do so ; but this very fact tends to prove, as many other 
indications confirm, that his aim in the body of the work 
was to write in such a way as would allow him to incorporate 
in the text the native names and phraseology which it was 
desired to preserve — the 'ancient words' referred to in the 
Imperial decree. He explains his method at the end of the 
preface, as follows : 

1 In high antiquity both speech and thought were so simple 
that it would be difficult to arrange phrases and compose periods 
in the characters. To relate everything in an ideographic tran- 
scription would entail inadequate expression of the meaning ; to 
write altogether according to the phonetic method would make 
the story of events too lengthy. For this reason I have some- 
times used the phonetic and ideographic systems conjointly and 
have sometimes in one matter used the ideographic record 

Though this statement is clear enough to one familiar with 
the text of the Kojiki, it must be expanded and illustrated 
if we are to understand the method adopted in the first 
attempt on a large scale to reproduce the Japanese language 
in writing. For details the reader is referred to Chamber- 
lain's translation of the Kojiki (T. A.S.J, x, Supplement), 
and the specimens of Japanese given in Aston's grammar 
of the written language ; but the following outline will give 
a general idea of the problems before the writer and the way 
in which he solved them. 

It must first be reiterated that archaic Japanese was a 
polysyllabic language, consisting of uninflected substantives, 
highly inflected verbs and adjectives, and a large number of 


agglutinative suffixes and particles — a language markedly 
synthetic in character, and thus the opposite in almost every 
respect of Chinese, which is monosyllabic, uninflected, and 
analytic. Further, the task before the compiler of the Kojiki 
was unlike that of the scribes who had to record foreign 
sounds by means of Chinese symbols, in that his object was 
to assign symbols to both sounds and meanings in his own 
language. We may best examine the process by taking a 
passage from the Kojiki, and endeavouring to reconstruct 
the process by which it was written. I select for convenience 
that part of the first volume of the work which describes 
how the god Izanagi and the goddess Izanami, the latter 
having given birth to several islands — a progeny with which 
they were dissatisfied — repaired to heaven and were in- 
formed that their offspring was not good, because, in the 
courtship which led to the procreation of these islands, 'the 
woman had spoken first '. The narrative goes on to tell that 
the god and goddess thereupon again descended from heaven 
and circled again a certain 'august heavenly pillar' which 
they had erected, Izanagi saying first, ' O ! what a fair and 
lovely maiden ', and Izanami then replying, ' O ! what a fair 
and lovely youth'. In writing this the compiler began by 
setting down the following characters : 

- \M^) return I « (\ «* ^ 

This could be read in Chinese, character by character, and 
to one familiar with that language would be quite intelligible. 
But a Japanese, who wished to read it in Japanese, would 
have to assign Japanese equivalents to the characters. The 
Japanese equivalent of /& Hf (thereupon) is sore ga yue ni, 
where sore, 'that' stands for fjjjf and yue, 'cause', stands for 
pi, but in Japanese the particles ga and ni must be supplied, 
just as in English we must add 'by' and 'of to give the 
phrase 'by reason of that'. Further, it will be noticed that 
the order of words is reversed in Japanese, fjf being read 
first, and £fc second. Again, instead of taking these two 
characters separately, the Japanese reader might treat them 
as a compound, and regard them as representing the single 


word 'sunahachi', which approximates in meaning to 'sore 
ga yue ni ', much as ' therefore ' in English approximates to 
'by reason of that'. Thus the two characters $C ^ can be 
read in at least three different ways : 

(1) according to their Chinese sound, or to the customary 

Japanese imitation of that sound, 

(2) according to their literal meaning in Japanese, charac- 

ter by character — supplying the necessary gram- ' 1 to i 
matical links, a^i'u 

(3) according to their meaning in composition, by using 

a single Japanese word of approximately the same 

It is obvious that, unless the writer of a text of this nature 
gives some special indications, it is not possible to say by 
which of these methods he intends it to be read. There is no 
means of telling, for example, whether the writer of the 
Kojiki intended #fc fjf to be read sore ga yue ni or sunahachi. 
The great commentator on the Kojiki, Motoori, did, it is 
true, reconstruct the whole of the text in pure Japanese 
without any admixture of Chinese words or phrases what- 
ever, but it is quite certain that many of his readings are 
entirely conjectural, and a number of them are undoubtedly 
false. The above example will have sufficed to show that 
at least some readings are doubtful, and that therefore, 
without special indications (which, as we shall presently see, 
exist in some cases), the text of the Kojiki cannot provide 
evidence as to the vocabulary and forms of archaic Japanese. 
After the above words, which may be translated 'There- 
fore they descended again', the passage continues as follows : 

1. H 


6. ± 

(connective suffix) 

2. ft 


7- IP 


3- m 


8. fc 


4- £ 


9. im 


5- Ji 


10. ft 


which may be translated into English 'They again went 
round the heavenly august pillar as before'. The Japanese 
rendering involves a complete rearrangement of the charac- 
ters and the addition of Japanese grammatical forms. The 
following is Motoori's reconstruction : 
3-70 d 




sara ni 



































_ _ 


Here Motoori has supplied the particles wo and no, no doubt 
correctly, and he has added the honorific verb taniau, in its 
past tense tamaiki, though there can clearly be no certainty 
as to whether this was intended by the writer. We now 
come to the passage : 

jfe on 
Jj| this 
# 7 



it gi 

■fir ruler (honorific) 

ft first 
•g speak 

which means 'Thereupon His Augustness Izanagi spoke 
first ', and is rendered by Motoori ' Koko ni Izanagi no Mikoto 
madzu . . . noritamaiki'. Here koko ni is the equivalent of 
the Chinese jft jj|, madzu of ^£, and noritamaiki of If. It 
will be noticed that -fa was in the previous sentence rendered 
by saki, so that again we have two readings ascribed to one 
character. It is clear, then, that the Japanese reading so far 
is not based on any fixed correspondence between a given 
Chinese character and a given Japanese word, but is rather 
in the nature of a translation from a Chinese text. It is 
impossible to say exactly how the compilers intended their 
text to be read. Probably they had no precise ideas on the 
subject themselves, and therefore Motoori' s reconstruction 
may in many respects be not incorrect. In some cases, how- 
ever, there can be no doubt as to the reading. First of all 
we have such proper names as Izanagi, which we find repre- 
sented by the characters ffi 3flS #|$ |£ standing for the four 
syllables I, ZA, NA, GI. These are obviously phonetic 
renderings of Japanese names, corresponding exactly with 


the phonetic reproduction of Sanskrit words from Buddhist 
texts, which has been described above. And when we come, 
in the next passage, to the words spoken by Izanagi, we find the 
phonetic method applied to a complete sentence. His speech 
is reported as follows : R IF j| $ .$ g & & W -£. 
If these characters are read according to their Chinese 
meanings they make no sense at all ; but according to their 
sounds they give Ana niyashie wotome wo, which are Japanese 
words, meaning 'Oh! what a fair and lovely maiden'. 

This phonetic method was applied throughout the Kojiki 
wherever it was thought essential by the compiler to preserve 
words in their native form, and so we have in this work 
a tolerably exact phonetic record of a great number of place 
and personal names, a few complete sentences, and about 
one hundred short poems and songs. These furnish valuable 
evidence as to the earliest forms of the Japanese vocabulary, 
and occasionally they throw light upon questions of accidence 
and syntax. Thus, the sentence just quoted, 'Ana ni yashie 
wotome wo', fixes the word for 'maiden' as wotome, and 
shows that wo, which is now an accusative particle, was 
formerly an interjection. But the main body of the text, 
since its reading, though clear enough as to meaning, is con- 
jectural as to sound, rarely provides any indications of this 
nature. It is not Japanese, and at the same time it is not 
Chinese, but a quasi-Chinese which (to quote Chamberlain) 
' breaks down every now and then, to be helped up again by 
a few Japanese words written phonetically, and is surely the 
first clumsy attempt at combining two divergent elements '. 
That it is clumsy enough is already clear, but it will be as 
well to show by further examples some of the awkward 
devices which it necessitated. It will be noticed that in 
order to write the 'august heavenly pillar', which is in 
Japanese ame no mi hashira (literally, the august pillar of 
heaven), the characters ^ ;£ ^ & are used. Here ;£, 
(Chinese pronunciation in modern Pekingese chih, conjec- 
tured pronunciation when borrowed shi) is used to represent 
the Japanese genitive particle no - ' of ' . In Chinese £ means 
'this', and is used as a connective particle, but in pure 
Chinese it would not have been necessary in the above con- 
struction, for 5^ ;{•£ would be sufficient to represent ' heavenly 
pillar'. We may therefore conclude that the compilers 


selected ;£, as an equivalent for no. Later, however, we find 
a group of characters j|| H& j£ $£, where jiH ^ does not 
make sense in Chinese, and we are bound to assume (on the 
evidence of phonetic writing in other parts of the work) that 
this is a Japanese construction, and that j& ^ represents 
kaeri masu, an honorific form of the verb kaeru, 'to return'. 
Similarly we may read 0^ as toki, 'time', consistently with 
the Chinese use of the character. But it is very doubtful 
whether ;£ should here be read no as above, for kaerimasu 
no toki is not good Japanese ; and we therefore may infer 
that ;£ must be regarded here as a phonetic and read shi. 
We then get, by adding shi to the stem of the verb masu, 
kaerimashishi, which is the preterite of kaerimasu, so that 
the whole reads kaerimashishi toki, and means 'when he 
returned', which is the sense required by the context. It 
will be seen that ;£ is used both semantically and phonetic- 
ally — to represent the meaning of no and the sound of shi — 
and it is easy from this one example to imagine how difficult 
is the reconstruction of a complete text written in such a 
confusing fashion. But we can already see the beginnings 
of the system which was later evolved. There was not much 
difficulty in assigning Chinese characters to Japanese sub- 
stantives, adjectives, and verbs, since Chinese had a far 
greater vocabulary than Japanese. It was merely a question 
of deciding upon an appropriate character — one which had 
a meaning corresponding as closely as possible with that of 
the Japanese word — and agreeing to use that character as 
the correct symbol for the Japanese word in question. As 
we shall see, the Japanese did not always follow the appa- 
rently simple rule of keeping one character for one word and 
one word for one character ; but they did gradually, no 
doubt following the usage of the Kojiki in most cases, build 
up a system by which each character was given a recognized 
Japanese reading. Thus, in a Japanese text [Jj, 'mountain', 
would naturally be read as the noun yama, f|, 'fertile', 
would be read as the adjective toyo, and ££, 'to go', as the 
verb yuku. So far it is plain sailing. It is when we come 
to the Japanese particles and terminations that the difficulty 
begins. We need not trace in detail the development of the 
system which was finally adopted, but a few examples will 
show the lines on which it proceeded. We have already seen 


that for the particle no the compiler of the Kojiki selected 
as a suitable equivalent the character ;£, which performs in 
Chinese an office similar to, but not identical with, that of 
no. In the same way, for the particle ni, used as a locative 
meaning 'in' or 'at', he used jfe, which in Chinese can be 
used in a similar sense, and he wrote, for instance, koko ni, 
'hereat', as jfe ^, putting the characters in their Chinese 
order. So long as approximate Chinese equivalents could be 
found for such particles and suffixes in Japanese, this method 
was not unsatisfactory. But there were many grammatical 
devices in Japanese which have no parallel in Chinese. Chief 
among these were the inflexions of the adjective and the 
verb. Thus the adjective for 'good' in Japanese is yo (the 
stem) with an attributive form yoki and a predicative form 
yoshi. Now the characters £F and A m Chinese stood for ko 
(modern Mandarin hao), 'good', and fin (modern Mandarin 
jen) , a ' man '. Therefore a Japanese at the period in question 
might read £F A. either kojin, a compound which, if familiar, 
might be intelligible to the Japanese ear, or he might read 
it yoki hito, supplying the inflexion ki, which the character 
does not represent but which was essential in Japanese. As 
may be imagined, the influence of Chinese upon Japanese 
scholars was so great that many single Chinese words, and 
many compounds on the model of kojin, were adopted by 
them, and, growing so usual that they were intelligible in 
speech, soon became naturalized. This process, on a gradually 
increasing scale, has continued until the present day, so that 
the vocabulary of modern Japanese is largely composed of 
such Sino- Japanese compounds. But if a writer wished to 
ensure that the two characters #f \ were given their pure 
Japanese reading, namely, yoki hito, he must somehow or 
other show the syllable ki. Not long after the Kojiki was 
written, the idea of using Chinese characters as phonetic 
symbols to represent Japanese sounds must have become 
familiar to Japanese scholars, who were by then accustomed 
to seeing Japanese names and other Japanese words such as 
those quoted above {Izanagi, wotome, &c.) written in this 
way. It would therefore naturally occur to them to write 
the syllable ki by means of some Chinese character pro- 
nounced ki or something like ki. This is what they did, and 
yoki, for instance, would be written either £f f£ (where £f 


represents the meaning of the stem yo, and {£ the sound of 
the termination ki) or <%* {£ (where ^ represents the sound 
yo and {£ the sound ki). It might be supposed that the 
phonetic method of ^ ^ would be more convenient than 
the dual method of %f {£, which, being a combination of the 
semantic and phonetic methods, is likely to cause confusion. 
But there were practical disadvantages in the use of the 
phonetic method alone, the most serious of which was the 
great labour it entailed. If we take, for instance, a word 
like kashikomi, a word meaning 'awe' which is of frequent 
occurrence in early texts, we see that its phonetic representa- 
tion involves writing a character for each of the syllables ka, 
shi, ko, and mi, e. g. |nf ;£ $J %$, while the meaning kashi- 
komi can be represented by the single character 3&. Further, 
since all words in Chinese function indifferently as verb, 
noun, adjective, or adverb, 3ft stands not only for 'awe', but 
also for 'awful', 'awfully', and 'to hold in awe'. There- 
fore, in order to represent the Japanese adjective kashikoki, 
'awful', or the Japanese verb kashikomu, 'to hold in awe', 
it was both intelligible and convenient to write the single 
character 3ft, and to follow it by the distinguishing final 
syllable (or syllables) written phonetically. Thus it was 
possible to represent a complete series of Japanese words 
each by two or three characters instead of four, five, or 
six phonetics. In the following list the characters used 
phonetically are distinguished by smaller type : 

Kashikomi (noun) 3ft or 3ft J| 

Kashikoki (adjective) 3ft US 

Kashikomu (verb, present tense) 3ft Jft 
Kashikomite (gerund) 3ft l§ 5£ 

Kashikomitari (past tense) 3ft3l % £'J 

This method was not only shorter than the phonetic method, 
but it also has the advantage of showing clearly that a 
character must be given a Japanese reading. Thus the 
character 3ft> without any special indication, could be read 
kyo, which is its Sinico-Japanese pronunciation, or it could 
be read osore or kashikomi, since both these words have about 
the same meaning. But if 3ft is followed by the phonetic 
H mi, the reader knows at once not only that it must be 
read as a Japanese word, but that that Japanese word must 


have a stem ending in mi, and must therefore be kashikomi 
and not osore. 

By the end of the ninth century this style of writing was 
well developed and established in use. It must not be under- 
stood that it was universal, for the overwhelming prestige 
of the Chinese language and literature tended to discourage 
the use of Japanese in writing, except where there was some 
special reason for recording Japanese words. The great 
chronicle which followed shortly after the Kojiki, the 
'Chronicles of Japan' (Nihongi), completed in a. d. 720, is 
written in Chinese, and makes no attempt to preserve 
Japanese constructions, except in the poems, which are 
written phonetically. For poems the phonetic method was 
naturally the best suited, since it was necessary to preserve 
every syllable of the original verses, for metrical reasons. 
Consequently, the first great anthology of Japanese verse is 
written very largely by means of what are called kana, 
' borrowed names ', which signifies that Chinese symbols were 
borrowed to perform a phonetic function. The name of this 
anthology was the Manyoshu, or 'Collection of a Myriad 
Leaves', and the characters thus used were known as Manyo- 
gana. In this work the order of words is Japanese, and 
though some characters are employed to represent meanings, 
there is very little difficulty in reconstructing the full 
Japanese text, because the admixture of kana is considerable 
and the metre serves as a guide to the number of syllables. 
Thus, if we take a line like j£ ^f -& & H, we know from 
its position that it must contain seven syllables in Japanese. 
The first two characters are obviously phonetic, and read 
oso. $1 is sometimes put for nari, the verb 'is', but this 
would allow us only three syllables for ^ ^ and there are 
no equivalents for these two characters which would give 
that count. Consequently ^ also must be phonetic, and 
read ya. The remaining four syllables must therefore be 
a word or words of which the meaning and not the sound 
is represented by Q ^, so that j§; must stand for kono, and 
^ for kimi, the line being thus read oso ya kono kimi. It 
will be seen that on these lines the text of the Manyoshu 
can be restored with a very high degree of certainty, and 
this collection is the most valuable of all extant sources for 
the study of early Japanese. Moreover, by collating words 


and phrases in the Manyoshu with the text of the Kojiki 
we can postulate without much doubt a large number of 
readings in the latter work. 

Following upon the Kojiki there came another class of 
literature in which early Japanese forms are preserved with 
considerable accuracy. These are the Shinto rituals or 
Norito which are recorded in the Engishiki, the Institutes of 
the Engi period, promulgated in 927. In these documents 
the Chinese characters are arranged in the order required by 
Japanese syntax, with very few exceptions, which can be 
accounted for on grounds of convenience and speed. Thus 
for the negative forms of verbs the character >f. fu (' not ') 
is pjaced before the character representing the verb, as in 
7f.(j\i)' does not say', which in Japanese is mosazu, where 
the~hegative is expressed by the suffix zu ; but as a general 
rule the order is the correct Japanese order, and the particles 
and terminations are written by means of characters used 
phonetically. Thus the verb tsutomu, 'to work', is repre- 
sented by the single character H; for Chinese kin, which has 
the same meaning ; while the form tsutomeshimete (which 
is the gerund of the causative form of tsutomu) is represented 
by Wl 3i 3fc l£> where the last three characters are phonetic 
for shimete. The reconstruction of the exact original words 
of the rituals therefore presents but little difficulty, and all 
external and internal evidence tends to show that they are 
remarkably free from Chinese influence, whether as to sub- 
stance or to language. They are therefore a most valuable 
source of materials for the study of archaic Japanese. They 
share with the poetry of the Kojiki and the Nihongi the 
distinction of being the oldest extant specimens of Japanese. 

The next work of importance in which indigenous forms 
are preserved is the Shoku Nihongi, a continuation, com- 
pleted in a. d. 797, of the Nihongi. Both these works are 
mainly in Chinese, but the Shoku Nihongi contains a number 
of Imperial edicts written by a method similar to that used 
for the Shinto rituals, and evidently intended as an exact 
record of the Japanese phraseology employed when these 
edicts were pronounced in public. The system of writing is 
not entirely regular, but the words of the edicts can be 
restored with a high degree of accuracy. Thus the phrase 
akitsu mikami, 'a manifest god', is written Ig, $p jji$ which 


is unintelligible in Chinese. Elsewhere we find flfi '$$ jjjtjj and 
these two in conjunction suggest a reading akitsu mikami, 
which is confirmed by reference to the Shinto rituals, 
where we find in a similar context the phonetic transcript 
M {£ HP H M &C a-ki-tsu-mi-ka-mi. 

It will be seen that, by the end of the eighth century, 
the Japanese were in a fair way to establishing a convenient 
system of representing Japanese words on the basis of what 
was styled Kana majiri, or the Mixed Phonetic Script, 
because the principal words in a sentence were written by 
Chinese characters used according to their meaning, and 
these were eked out, as to terminations, suffixes, &c, by 
Chinese characters used according to sound. The method is 
well illustrated by the example of tsutomeshimete, quoted 
above. It might have been supposed that, once the system 
gained a footing, it would be gradually made simple and 
uniform, but Japanese scholars in the succeeding centuries 
devoted themselves almost exclusively to Chinese studies or 
to Buddhist works and paid but little attention to their own 
language. The native words and the native idiom were 
employed for verses and romances, the recreation of serious 
scholars only in their lighter hours. In this aesthetic field, 
the aim was not simplicity but elegance, and since, in the 
East, calligraphy is not a mere mechanical accomplishment 
but one of the fine arts, there was a tendency in writing 
down verses to use a script selected not so much for easy 
comprehension as for its beauty or interest. Often a poet 
or a scribe, to represent a simple Japanese word, would 
use some character or group of characters which could be 
related to it only by a strong flight of fancy, and he would 
deliberately ornament or complicate his script very much 
as a medieval monk in Europe might embellish a missal or 
a legend by illuminations and flourishes. 

These early writers can certainly be said to have displayed 
what Dr. Johnson declared to be the highest praise of poetry 
— 'such invention as, by producing something unexpected, 
surprises and delights'. They surprised and delighted the 
reader not only by elaborate word-plays in the body of a 
poem, but also by devices in the script comparable to the 
riddle, the rebus, the acrostic, and the palindrome. Thus, 
one wishes to express the meaning of idzuru, 'to go out'. 

3170 E 


To use the simple character ft would be dull and uninterest- 
ing, so he puts jJLl _k 1E W Uj 'on a mountain another 
mountain', because ill is the symbol for mountain, and ill 
upon ill gives ft. A second writes the common combinations 
of particles tsuru kamo with the characters ?$} IR| 'stork- 
duck', because stork is tsuru and duck is kamo. A third 
gives $$ 'sea', instead of $$ \ 'sea man', for ama a 'fisher- 
man ' ; and a fourth writes a part of a character instead of 
the whole, a practice which, as we shall see, had important 

But, quite apart from this deliberate creation of diffi- 
culties, the mere failure of Japanese scholars to appreciate 
and grapple with the problem of simplifying their script led 
to anomalies of every description. Many of these are in- 
herent in the nature of a logographic system, as becomes 
clear when one studies the process by which Chinese symbols 
were allocated to Japanese words. In the first place, though 
each Chinese character stands for one, and only one, Chinese 
word, it must not be supposed that each Chinese word has 
one fixed and invariable meaning. In any language there 
are a number of words of which the meaning extends over 
a wide range, as for instance in English, 'beam', which may 
be either a noun meaning a piece of wood, the side of a ship, 
a ray of light, or a verb meaning to shine. But Chinese 
presents this phenomenon in a most intense degree, partly 
because it has been a literary language for thousands of 
years, partly because its peculiar structure and script forbid 
the easy assimilation of foreign words to express shades of 
meaning, and partly because it does not differentiate such 
parts of speech as noun and adjective, verb and adverb. 
To take an example, the word sheng, which is invariably 
written with the character *£, represents the idea of growth, 
as is indicated by the character ^, of which the early form 
was %_, depicting a plant piercing the soil. From this 
primary meaning (which in Chinese covers the substantive 
'growth', the verb 'to grow', and the adjective 'growing'), 
there arose a large number of secondary meanings, such as 
birth, to be born, to bear, to produce, new-born, new, fresh, 
strange, raw, a living thing, to live, alive, life, a disciple ; 
and though it is not difficult to trace the association of ideas 
by which this group of meanings was made, it can be easily 


seen that there is a wide gap between its extreme members, 
like 'birth' and 'disciple'. When the Japanese came to 
select Chinese characters for their own purposes, they had 
to consider them from two aspects. First, if a Japanese 
scholar reading a Chinese work wished to decide upon a 
suitable Japanese word to render the meaning conveyed by 
a given Chinese word, his choice would naturally differ 
according to the value which must be assigned to the Chinese 
word in the context before him. If it is 'to be born' he 
must take the Japanese word umaruru ; if 'to grow', the 
word ou, or haeru ; if 'raw', the word nama ; if 'life', the 
word inochi ; if 'to live', the word ikiru, and so on. Taking 
now the reverse process, where we suppose a Japanese to be 
seeking a character suited to stand for a given Japanese 
word, say, umu, 'to bear', he would find that in Chinese 
there was to convey that meaning more than one word, and 
therefore more than one character, such as, for instance, jfr 
and #& as well as £. Similarly for inochi, 'life', he would 
find fjjj- and for ikiru, 'to live', he would find fi£, both in 
addition to ^. The confusion resulting from such conditions 
can well be imagined. There was no strong influence working 
for uniformity, and scholars engaged in translating Chinese 
works or in writing Japanese by means of the Chinese script 
were guided only by their own taste, or at best by the 
practice of their particular school, in fixing the correspon- 
dence between Chinese characters and Japanese words. 
Even had they deliberately aimed at regularity, they would 
have had a difficult task before them, since the Chinese 
vocabulary was superior to the Japanese vocabulary of those 
days both in size and in capacity for expressing shades of 
meaning ; while it was a natural sequence of the contrast 
between the two races, and the disparity between their 
civilizations, that their respective languages should cover 
each a different range of names of material things and 
abstract ideas. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a 
language less suited by its structure, its content, and its 
script than Chinese for adoption by Japan. But necessity, 
and the overwhelming prestige of Chinese culture, left no 

Though, as we have said, there was no strong influence 
working for uniformity in the assignment of Chinese symbols 


to Japanese words, and though there were even pedantic and 
esoteric influences working against it, intelligibility and con- 
venience were bound to some extent to prevail. And so we 
find that, by degrees, certain characters came to be regarded 
as the correct equivalents for certain Japanese words, to 
the complete or partial exclusion of other characters. For 
instance, for umu, 'to bear', in the restricted sense of the 
act of parturition, jH was used in preference to ^, so that, 
in writing the words tamago wo umu, 'to lay an egg', |§r 
would be more correct than ^, while umu in the general 
sense of ' to bring into existence ' would be better represented 
by £fe, as in kane ga kane wo umu, 'money begets money'. 
These are examples where one Japanese word has several 
meanings, to each of which can be assigned a different 
character. Then we have the cases where one Chinese 
character stands for several meanings which in Japanese are 
conveyed by different words. We need not look further than 
this same ^ which we have been discussing. It stands for 
one Chinese word, sheng, that has the meanings 'to grow', 
'fresh', and 'to live', expressed in Japanese respectively by 
the words haeru, narna, and ikiru. For haeru, 'to grow', the 
Japanese could find no more suitable symbol than ^, which 
they accordingly adopted for that purpose. For nama, 
'fresh', ^ again was the only appropriate character, and 
was therefore used to represent that word. For ikiru, 'to 
live', there was available ft§, representing rather life in the 
sense of movement, and consequently here (as with umu 
above) both ^ and ffi might be used, each being reserved 
to express a special shade of meaning. 

In addition to the categories just described, there was of 
course a large group of Japanese words for which it was easy 
to find a single satisfactory Chinese equivalent. Most names 
of simple things, or simple ideas, naturally fall into this 
group, and there could be no doubt or difficulty about the 
selection of such characters as ^c for ki, 'tree', 7}c for midzu, 
'water', for hi, 'the sun', £f for yoki, 'good', and ^ for 
waruki, 'bad'. Here there could be no alternative. But, 
as we have just seen in the case of the very common symbol 
^fe, though it was possible to appropriate certain characters 
exclusively for certain Japanese words, even a deliberate 
effort to devise a uniform system of correspondence between 


word and symbol was, in the nature of things, bound to 
fail. Consequently, even to-day, in spite of all opposing 
tendencies, Japanese is recorded in a script complex in its 
nature and irregular in its use to an almost incredible degree. 
Its defects cannot be better illustrated than by the simple 
method of copying from a dictionary some of the readings 
associated with the character ^£ which we have chosen as an 
example in the foregoing description. In a modern dictionary 
of Chinese characters as used by Japanese, we find under the 
heading ^ the following common readings of that character : 


umu, umaru 

to bear, to be born 



fresh fish, raw fish 



raw silk 


haeru, oeru 

to grow 


ikiru, ikeru 

to be alive, to keep alive 

and in addition to these there are given about twenty other 
readings which, though less usual, are all possible. 

So far we have treated only of Chinese words for which 
it was possible to find a more or less suitable Japanese 
equivalent, but there was a large class of Chinese words 
which were the names of things or ideas unknown or un- 
familiar to the Japanese. It must be remembered that, up 
to the time of the first importation of Chinese learning into 
Japan, let us say until about a. d. 400, Japanese civilization 
was of a simple, primitive sort, while China had already 
a long history of culture reaching back for more than two 
thousand years. So there were many kinds of knowledge 
for which the Japanese were indebted to China. Among the 
objects which were new to the Japanese, one naturally thinks 
of the instruments used for writing, for which, since writing 
was unknown to them before, they cannot have had names. 
An examination of the present Japanese words for a pen and 
a written document shows, as one might expect, that they 
are borrowed from Chinese. Fude, formerly pute, meaning 
a writing brush, is almost certainly the Chinese ^ which, 
pronounced something like pit in early Chinese, came into 
Japanese by way of Korea, where it is pronounced put. 
Similarly, fumi, a writing, is the Chinese JC, now pronounced 
wen, but formerly having a sound like fun. Other objects 
introduced at a very early period from China were metal 


coins (Chinese sen, Japanese zeni) and possibly the horse 
(Chinese ma, Japanese uma). Here we have examples of 
Chinese words which were fully naturalized. Others, no 
doubt, through being in less frequent use, were less thoroughly 
assimilated. Such are words like rat g|f 'ceremony', gaku 
*j!§ ' music ', shiki ^ ' rites ', kyo ^ ' a sutra ', so ff| ' a monk ', 
ron gfo 'an argument', which were taken over with only 
such change in pronunciation 1 as was necessitated by the 
difference between Chinese and Japanese sounds. 

1 It is interesting to note in passing that since the process of 
borrowing Chinese words continued over a long period, during which 
there were successive changes in Chinese pronunciation, the early 
borrowings can be distinguished from the late ones. The Chinese 
pronunciation just adopted was that of the province of Go (Wu in 
modern Chinese) , in which was situated the capital under the Eastern 
: Shin dynasty in the fourth century. The pronunciation current in 

S**' T;hat province was that which was given by the Japanese to most 
of the words which they borrowed at the beginnings of their inter- 
course with China, and therefore a great part of the special vocabulary 
of Buddhism, and a number of names of common objects, are still 
pronounced according to what the Japanese call Go-on, or ' Wu 
sound '. But, though Wu was the province most accessible to Japan, 
its dialect was admittedly provincial, and the standard speech was 
that of Honan, where the models of the Han dynasty were still 
followed. The Japanese scholars, as they grew more discriminatory, 
abandoned the Wu dialect, and went to the pure source of Han, 
whence they borrowed the pronunciation known as Kan-on or ' Han 
sound '. The Kan-on soon replaced the Go-on, and it was the pro- 
nunciation used for all borrowings during the succeeding centuries, 
except for a few special words imported in comparatively recent 
times, which were pronounced in an approximation to the contem- 
porary Chinese sound, and have not changed since. These latter are 
known as To-in, literally ' Tang sounds ', the name of the Tang 
dynasty being used in a general way to mean China. We thus have 
in Japanese three types of pronunciation of imported Chinese words, 
and sometimes the same Chinese word appears in each of these three 
types, having been borrowed either alone or in composition at three 
different times. A good example is the reading of the character p^j, 
which is read myo according to Go-on, met according to Kan-on, and 
min according to the so-called Tang pronunciation. 

It is worth mentioning here that, though we speak of the Chinese 
pronunciations in Japan of imported Chinese words, these were by 
no means exact reproductions of Chinese sounds, since (quite apart 
from the tones of Chinese syllables) the Japanese vocal apparatus 
could not easily compass many common Chinese sounds. The 
Japanese, for instance, cannot say /, which is frequent in Chinese, 
and there are several combinations of sounds in Chinese which are 


The Chinese words which we have just described as 
adopted into the Japanese vocabulary, with a greater or 
less degree of assimilation to Japanese forms, were single 
words, represented by one character. But Chinese has an 
unrivalled facility for forming compounds, by means of 
which it can express ideas outside the scope of independent 
words, or, if need be, can limit or expand the significance 
of such words. There are of course a number of compounds 
for which it is easy to find a parallel in other languages — 
like ^jt %jf beifun, 'rice-flour', which is merely the juxta- 
position of two nouns, or £3 ^ hakui, ' white clothes ', which 
is an epithet in close association with a noun. Chinese, how- 
ever, goes much farther than these simple collocations, and 
though it is not necessary here to describe all the many 
varieties and uses of its compound words, it is as well to 

repugnant to the ear, if not difficult for the tongue, of a Japanese. 
Moreover, the Chinese learned by the Japanese was, like the French 
of Stratford-atte-Bowe, as a rule a home product, since few of them 
can have heard it from the lips of natives of China or even Korea. 
It was doubtless, for purposes of study, represented by Chinese 
characters used phonetically, and since each character represents a 
syllable every Chinese word written phonetically would appear to 
consist of one or more syllables, whereas in fact nearly all Chinese 
words are monosyllabic. Thus, by the syllabic method, the nearest 
a Japanese could get to writing such sounds as liao and Hang, which 
are for practical purposes monosyllables, would be ri-ya-u, which 
makes three syllables in Japanese. Similarly, sounds like mok (-fa) 
and ngwat ( f^j ) become moku and gwatsu, because Japanese writing 
knows no final consonants. 

At the same time, it is worth remarking, the correspondences 
between original Chinese sounds and their Japanese imitations are 
fairly uniform, and a comparison of the two is often of great value 
in determining phonetic changes that have taken place in both 
languages. An interesting example is a Sinico- Japanese word like 
kyo ($$J ' to rob '). This was formerly written in Japan kefu, which 
from other indications we know to have been pronounced something 
like kepn, and this confirms the supposition, otherwise derived from 
Chinese sources, that the Chinese pronunciation when the word was 
borrowed by the Japanese was approximately kep. Conversely, there 
are many indications from Chinese that the syllables now pronounced 
in Japan hi, ho, ha, he, fu, originally had an initial consonant re- 
sembling p or perhaps ph. One such indication is the fact that, in 
selecting Chinese characters to represent these syllables phonetically, 
the Japanese preferred those of which the Chinese sound had an initial 
p, as J£ pi, for the first syllable of the word now pronounced hito. 


illustrate some of them by examples. One important class 
is composed of antithetical compounds like j^ £g cho-tan, 
literally 'long-short', which stands for the idea expressed in 
English by the word 'length' but is more logical, since it 
expresses a synthesis by specifying both elements and em- 
phasizing neither. Similar words are ;fc /h dai-sho, ' great- 
small', meaning 'size', H H kandan, 'cold-hot', meaning 
temperature, 3H $£, yenkin, 'far-near', meaning distance, 
and so on. Nearly all such compounds were concise and 
convenient notations of ideas difficult if not impossible to 
express in early Japanese, which was ill-equipped with the 
names of abstract ideas. The idea of 'long-ness' could be 
conveyed by a periphrasis like nagaki koto, where nagaki is 
the adjective for 'long' and koto is the word meaning 'thing' 
in an abstract sense ; or by the word nagasa, where sa is 
a suffix something like '-ness' in English. But nagaki koto 
is cumbrous and nagasa, though good enough for 'long-ness', 
does not convey the abstract idea of length. Moreover, the 
compound cho-tan, by extension, has various secondary 
meanings, such as ' merits ' in the merits of a case, its strong 
points and shortcomings, or the 'gist' of a matter — what we 
should call the 'long and short' of it. Japanese engaged in 
studying Chinese works would naturally be impressed by the 
brevity and usefulness of such compounds, and they would 
desire to translate them into their own language. But it is 
obvious that a word like nagaki-mijikaki for 'long-short' 
is altogether too unwieldy, and foreign to the spirit of the 
Japanese language, and it was much simpler to take over 
the Chinese compounds as they stood. Although the anti- 
thetical compounds just described are the most characteristic 
and perhaps the most important class, there are compounds 
of many other types. There are, for instance, a great number 
formed by the juxtaposition of two words of similar meaning, 
such as kinki, 'rejoicing', where both kin and ki signify 
gladness. Such compounds are redundant, but often they 
serve to express ideas differing slightly from those repre- 
sented by their separate elements standing alone. Another 
very convenient class comprises compounds which do not 
essentially differ very much from such descriptive words as 
hakui, £3 ^c cited above, except that they carry the process 
as far as the association of abstract ideas. Thus we have 


fg- Ijl gogaku, ' talk-study ', that is, the study of languages, 
for which we have had to invent the misleading term ' philo- 
logy' I S£ tH a *§°> 'love-protect', which corresponds to the 
English 'cherish' ; "jf Jg jik-ken, 'truth-inspection', for 
'verification', and a host of similar compounds for which 
Japanese could rarely furnish a simple equivalent or even 
a convenient paraphrase. It is noticeable that these com- 
pounds are frequently best translated into English by a word 
of Greek or Latin origin. 

Enough has been said to show that the Japanese could 
hardly fail to adopt words so useful and so flexible, and 
indeed the history of the vocabulary of Japanese for many 
centuries after the introduction of Chinese learning may be 
summarized as a tale of borrowing from Chinese, commencing 
with independent words and continuing, on an increasing 
scale, with compounds. To-day the Chinese words in the 
language are far more numerous than those of native origin. 

There is one aspect of this borrowing process which is of 
interest in its bearing upon the structural development of 
Japanese. The Chinese language is peculiar in that it does 
not distinguish what we call 'parts of speech', that is to say, 
categories of words corresponding to psychological categories, 
as a noun corresponds to a thing, a verb to an act or a state, 
an adjective to a property. The unit of Chinese speech is 
a fixed monosyllable, subject to no such variations as are 
produced by inflexion or suffixes in other languages. The 
word at f£ stands indifferently for 'love', 'to love', 'loving', 
and 'beloved', and its grammatical function is determined 
solely by its position and context. Japanese, on the other 
hand, has special forms for special functions. It has a large 
number of uninfected words which are nouns, and it has 
inflected words which are verbs or adjectives or nouns 
according to their inflexion. Consequently, in borrowing 
a Chinese word, it was necessary, if it was to be freely used, 
to provide some means of differentiating its function as verb, 
adjective, noun, or adverb as the case might be. Since all 
Chinese words are uninflected, and the normal type of a noun 
in Japanese is uninflected, it was simple enough to take over 
Chinese words for use as nouns, without any change or addi- 
tion. Thus %fo ron, ' argument ', is a single word and ^ ^ 
shozoku, 'costume', a compound word, and both were em- 

3*70 F 


bodied as they stand in the vocabulary of Japanese. But 
when it came to using them as verbs, it was necessary to 
find some way of providing them with inflexions which the 
Japanese verb requires in order to establish its function and 
to bring it into relation with other words. It might on 
general grounds be supposed that this result could be 
achieved by simply adding the necessary terminations to the 
Chinese word, as we in English have taken a substantive of 
foreign origin like 'chronicle', and given it our native in- 
flexions in 'chronicles', 'chronicled', 'chronicler', and so on. 
But this process was not easy to apply to Chinese words 
because, on account of their shortness, any mutilation might 
make them unrecognizable and, on account of their sounds, 
they could not well be combined with Japanese sounds, from 
which they differ in type, without some mutilation. I know 
of only one or two cases where a Chinese compound was 
taken and conjugated like a Japanese word. One is shozoku, 
' costume ', which has just been quoted. This word happened 
to become rather more familiar than most others, was cor- 
rupted to sozoku, and because of a quite fortuitous resem- 
blance to a common native verb shirizoku, it was in classical 
times given native inflexions like sozokite, 'dressing', sozo- 
keba, 'if he dresses', where it is seen functioning as a verb. 
Another such instance is the verb ryoru, 'to cook', which 
is a barbarous and comparatively recent formation from the 
Chinese compound ryori j$ J§ 'cookery'. But such forma- 
tions are quite exceptional, and could in any case only occur 
when the terminal sound of a Chinese word was similar to 
the termination of a Japanese verb or adjective. Thus it 
would be impossible without doing violence to both lan- 
guages, to convert Chinese words like gyo, kwai or kwan into 
typical verb-forms, which must like yuku, yuki, yuka, &c, 
end in vowels, or adjective forms which must, like yoki, 
yoshi, end in the syllables ki or shi. Such forms as gyou, 
gyoi, kwaishi, kwanki would be monstrosities. 1 Moreover, 
even had they not been impossible on grounds of euphony 
and intelligibility, the imported Chinese words, in the period 
of which we are speaking, were far from being fully assimi- 
lated. They still retained their alien individuality, and it 

1 There are, however, some adjectives formed by adding a special 
termination, -shiki, to Chinese words, as in bibishiki, yuyushiki, &c. 


was only in rare cases like that of sozoku that they became 
completely naturalized. It would hardly occur to a Japanese 
to treat them in the same way as native words, and he was 
therefore obliged to find some special method of making use 
of them as parts of speech other than substantives. It is 
not too much to say that the method adopted made a 
remarkable change in the nature of the Japanese language. 
To convert a Chinese word into a verb, all that was done 
was to add the Japanese verb suru, 'to do'. Thus, while 
ron standing alone in Japanese means 'argument', ron-suru 
means 'to do argument', consequently 'to argue', and the 
combination can be conjugated exactly as if it were a simple 
verb, by conjugating the verb suru. So we have all the 
requisite verbal forms, such as ron su, 'argues', ron shite, 
'arguing', ron sezu, 'does not argue', &C. 1 In many cases, 
where the verb-group thus formed came into common use, 
its two members were closely amalgamated. Ron-suru is a 
case in point. Ron must have been among the first Chinese 
words known to the Japanese, for it is part of the title of 
one of the first Chinese books brought to Japan — the Con- 
fucian Analects, called in Sino- Japanese Rongo — and for the 
two separate elements ron and suru there was soon sub- 
stituted the compound ronzuru, which was treated as a pure 
Japanese verb, and conjugated ronzu, ronji, ronjite, &c, 
ultimately furnishing a form ronjiru instead of ronzuru. Such 
cases of complete assimilation are, however, not numerous. 
There are a few verbs like kemisuru, which is a naturalized 
form of ken \fa suru, and meijiru, 'to command', from fa mei 
and suru, snowing slightly different kinds of assimilation, 
but generally speaking these derivative verbs are of the type 
of hi suru, J-fc 'to compare', where the ordinary conjugation 
of suru is retained When the borrowed Chinese word is 
a compound, this is invariably true. Such compounds as 
aigo, the word for 'cherishing' mentioned above, are made 
to serve as verbs by the simple addition of suru, aigo su, 
meaning 'cherishes', aigo shite, 'cherishing', aigo shitari, 

1 Turkish provides a close parallel to this method of fitting foreign 
words into the native grammatical structure. The Turkish verb 
etmek, ' to do ', is suffixed to Arabic substantives and then conjugated 
in the usual way, e. g. arzetmek, ' to say respectfully ' ; past tense, 
arzetdim ; future, arzedejek, and so on. 


'cherished', and so on. In many cases the Chinese word 
retains its character as a noun so fully that it is distinguished 
as being in the objective case by means of the appropriate 
particle : so that we can say both kensa suru, 'to inspect', 
and kensa wo suru, 'to make an inspection', with a slight 
difference of emphasis. 

It will be seen that this method of employing words must 
have had a far-reaching effect upon the vocabulary of 
Japanese, because it permitted the use of imported words 
to fulfil almost any grammatical function, and yet retained 
them in almost every case with no change in their form. 
Consequently the Japanese vocabulary of to-day is divided 
into two well-contrasted classes — on the one hand the native 
words, on the other the imported ones, each bearing very 
clear marks of its origin. It is interesting to compare this 
condition with that which prevails in the languages of 
Europe, where mutual borrowing has been for centuries so 
continuous and frequent that their vocabularies have an 
homogeneous aspect and the distinction between native and 
foreign words is often apparent only to one with expert 
knowledge. Nobody but a philologist could say off-hand 
what was the history of an English word like 'choose', but 
any dunce in Japan can tell, from their mere shape and sound, 
that sentei is Chinese and erabu Japanese for 'to choose'. 

If they were to be fully utilized, the Chinese elements 
had somehow to be made to serve not only as verbs but 
as adjectives and adverbs. Full details of the processes by 
which such adaptations were carried out will be found in the 
body ' of this work, and we need not do more than sketch 
them briefly here. To turn a Chinese noun into an adjective 
there was a convenient grammatical apparatus ready to hand 
in the native verb nari, which is the equivalent of our copula 
'to be', and, in common with all other Japanese verbs, has 
special attributive and adverbial forms. Consequently, 
taking a word like kirei f^ §f meaning 'pretty', it was 
necessary only to attach to it naru, the attributive form of 
nari, forming the combination kirei-naru, which can be pre- 
fixed to any substantive, as in kirei-naru hana (literally ' an 
is-pretty flower'), for 'a pretty flower'. This is the normal 

i See in particular under Adjectives, p. 121, and under Adverbs, 
p. 290. 


method of using Chinese compounds as attributives, and has 
given rise to the corresponding colloquial kirei na hana, 
where na is simply a contraction of naru. Other methods 
of bringing Chinese compounds into an attributive relation 
with nouns are not wanting, and though they are less fre- 
quent they are of interest as showing that the adoption of 
Chinese words forced upon the Japanese language certain 
structural changes, or at least brought into common use 
syntactical and other devices which would have otherwise 
remained unusual. A characteristic example is the borrowing 
of methods of which Chinese avails itself in the absence of 
inflexion, as when the Japanese use such adjectival phrases 
as seijijo, $£ Ip. _h ' political ', gutaiteki, j| f| #j ' concrete ', 
where _t and $j are the Chinese shang and ti, which are 
functionally inflexional affixes. Here, then, we have cases 
where Japanese has borrowed a part of the Chinese gram- 
matical apparatus. 

Similar expedients were resorted to when it was desired 
to use Chinese words as adverbs. The problem was simple, 
because Japanese adverbs are uninflected, and it was neces- 
sary only to affix to the appropriate Chinese word one of the 
native adverbial particles, ni or to, thus forming not an 
adverb but an adverbial phrase, as kirei ni, 'prettily', 
totsuzen to, 'suddenly'. 

Altogether, the influence upon the Japanese language of 
Chinese importations has been considerable. They have, as 
we have seen, wrought an immense change in the constitu- 
tion of its vocabulary ; they have profoundly modified its 
structure by grafting on to an inflected stock a numerically 
preponderant uninflected element ; and they have in many 
respects altered or enlarged its grammatical apparatus. All 
these results, it is important to notice, have not only flowed 
naturally from the peculiar structure of Chinese, but have 
been due in no small measure to the difficulty of adjusting the 
highly developed script of a literary language to the require- 
ments of an entirely alien speech with no literary history. 

While the outstanding features of the effect produced by 
Chinese upon the development of Japanese have been de- 
scribed above, there is no doubt that many locutions and 
probably many grammatical devices which appear to be 
indigenous are in reality due to Chinese influence, exerted 


chiefly through Japanese translations of Chinese works. It 
is naturally impossible to give definite proof of such influence, 
since the first records of Japanese are in the script of the 
language which we suppose to have exerted it, and they were 
compiled at a period when Chinese had already been used in 
Japan for at least two or three hundred years. We may, 
however, reasonably assume that at least the songs of the 
Kojiki and most of the Shinto rituals are in pure Japanese, 
free from any alien admixture, and there is a marked con- 
trast between the language of those texts and that of, say, 
the main body of the Kojiki itself or the Imperial rescripts 
of the Shoku Nihongi. But this is very uncertain ground, 
and I confine myself to giving a few examples of what I sup- 
pose to be constructions in imitation of Chinese practice, 
reminding the reader that in the early days of Chinese studies 
the method of literal translation must, in the nature of 
things, have been freely followed. 

Imagine a Japanese student endeavouring to read the 
Analects, and coming upon a passage like 

















which means, 'He who 

exercises government by means of 

his virtue may be compared to the Pole Star'. 1 

This he would read in 

Japanese, following the original as 

closely as possible, 


matsurigoto (wo) 


suru (ni) 




(wo) mochite 



tatoi (wa) 

& M. 



(no) gotoshi 

1 For simplicity the original text is here slightly abridged. 


where the words in brackets are those supplied to fulfil the 
grammatical requirements of Japanese. The translation, 
though not incorrect Japanese, is almost literal, and far from 
being idiomatic. The Chinese characters are taken one by 
one, and the nearest literal equivalent in Japanese for each 
is used ; but the result, though intelligible enough to those 
accustomed to such texts, is obtained by forcing Japanese 
words into alien constructions. When, for instance, the 
translator comes to J£J, which stands for a Chinese instru- 
mental particle of which the original sense was 'to use', he 
does not render it by an equivalent Japanese particle, but 
by a phrase wo mochite, 'making use of, and for the simple 
J^J ^ 'by virtue', he says toku wo mochite, 'using virtue'. 
This locution has now taken its place in the Japanese, in 
the forms wo mochite and wo motte, which are commonly 
employed in the written language to denote 'by means of. 
It is easy to multiply examples where, as in this case, a 
construction has come into common use through Chinese 
influence. It is not as a rule possible to prove that such 
constructions have been bodily transferred from Chinese ; 
but we may suspect that many constructions which were not 
usual in early Japanese became common under the stress of 
necessity in translating Chinese works. An analogy from 
English is perhaps seen in the use of such phrases as 'these 
things being done', modelled upon the ablative absolute 
construction of Latin. They cannot be rejected as not 
English, but they are imitative. 

There is little doubt that the Kojiki contains much 
phraseology of this nature, and though it would be too much 
to say that any construction or form which does not appear 
in the Rituals or the Songs should be regarded with suspicion, 
we may go so far as to say that the appearance of a given 
locution in even the earliest texts other than those two is 
not conclusive proof that it is indigenous. 

I append a few suggestions as to usages now frequent in 
Japanese which may be due to Chinese influence : 

(i) The use of tokoro to form relative clauses, as yuku 
tokoro no hito, 'the man who goes'. This seems to follow 
the Chinese use of 0f as in fe fift $c ' tnat which the heart 
desires'. The meaning of gjf as an independent word is 


'place', and 'place' in Japanese is tokoro, so that the 
Japanese would translate the above literally as kokoro no 
hossuru tokoro, 'the heart's desire-place'. 

(2) Chinese having no special verb-forms to express special 
aspects like tenses, time is expressed by analytic methods, as 
If Jt (' speak-finish ' for 'spoke'). Japanese verbs have 
special suffixes to express the completion of an act, but in the 
Kojiki, for instance, we find phrases like "ff || |fp 'having 
spoken' (literally 'speak finish then'), which is rendered in 
Japanese by ii-oete. It seems likely that Japanese locutions 
of this nature are due to Chinese, and that the frequent use 
in the written language of shikashite, a common reading of 
jjjj, is also copied from Chinese prose. 

(3) A common Chinese locative particle is j^ 'at' or 'in', 
which is rendered in Japanese by ni oite, 'placed in'. This 
locution seems to be due to translation, since the usual 
Japanese locative particle, ni, can be made to serve all 
necessary purposes. 

(4) In Chinese #n ' like ', occurs very frequently in phrases 
equivalent to 'thus', 'how', &c. The Japanese equivalent 
is an adjective gotoki, and in Japanese prose we find it in 
common use, as in kaku no gotoku, 'thus', where in pure 
Japanese kaku would be sufficient. It is probable that the 
extended use of gotoku is imitated from Chinese. 

(5) The double negative, as in arazaru bekarazu, ' must not 
not be' for 'must be', is possibly due to Chinese influence. 
This and many similar locutions which come perhaps rather 
under the heading of style than of syntax, as, for instance, 
the antithetical group of words or phrases, are characteristic 
features of Chinese prose. 

(6) The use of 'classifiers' is not frequent in the early 
language, and it may be that their frequency to-day has 
been brought about by the example of Chinese. The need 
of classifiers or some other device to prevent ambiguity is 
urgent in a language full of homophones, but not in a poly- 
syllabic language like Japanese, where homophones, though 
numerous, are not usually such as to cause misunderstanding. 


§ 2. Further Development of the Script, and the 
Representation of Japanese Sounds 

We have traced the process of adapting the Chinese script 
to Japanese requirements up to a point where the phonetic 
use of Chinese symbols to represent Japanese particles and 
terminations was well established by its use in various 
chronicles and anthologies compiled from the fifth to the 
ninth century. The process was a gradual one. The verses 
in the Manydshu are not exclusively written in kana. The 
early poems, say those up to the end of the seventh century, 
are written with characters used according to meanings, and 
their reconstruction is not easy ; but those of the middle 
of the eighth century are written phonetically. We have 
already observed that the use of a complete Chinese character 
to represent each syllable of words in a polysyllabic language 
was an awkward and tiresome method. It must be remem- 
bered, however, that these characters were as a rule written 
not in the way in which they appear in printed books but in 
an abbreviated cursive style, known as the 'grass hand'. 
Thus the character £p chi, 'knowledge', used as a phonetic 
symbol for the sound chi, was written in a running hand £ , 
and this was gradually abbreviated through various stages, 
such as %, until it took the simple form £,. It is natural 
to suppose that the convenience of these abbreviations sug- 
gested to the Japanese the selection of a number of simplified 
characters to be reserved for phonetic uses. The Japanese 
tradition affirms that Kobo Daishi, a famous priest who 
lived from a. d. 774-835, himself chose forty-seven of these 
signs and fixed them as the conventional equivalents of 
forty-seven syllables into which the sounds of the Japanese 
language 'had been analysed. These were called hiragana, 
which may be taken to mean 'easy kana', and constitute an 
alphabet, or rather a syllabary, by which Japanese words 
can be written according to their sound. It is quite likely 
that Kobo Daishi was responsible for this selection, but it is 
incorrect to say that he was the inventor of a Japanese 
alphabet. The idea of using characters as phonetics was, 
as we have seen, not a new one, and it had been applied 
by the Chinese centuries before. Kobo Daishi, if it was he, 
can hardly have done more than simplify the forms and 

3*70 G 


reduce the number of kana. Before this the selection of 
Chinese characters to represent Japanese sounds was more 
or less a matter of individual taste. Many different charac- 
ters were used for each sound, sometimes the same character 
was used for more than one sound. Even when the use of 
simplified characters became common, there was nothing in 
the nature of a fixed alphabet, and the total number of hira- 
gana symbols used to represent forty-seven sounds was 
nearly three hundred. Many of these have been eliminated, 
and the hiragana in common use to-day may be said to be 
standardized, and to show as a rule little more variation than is 
seen in the different styles of writing or printing our alphabet. 

Another syllabary, which came into use at about the same 
period as the hiragana, is made up of what are called kata- 
kana or ' side kana' . These are abbreviations of the square, 
and not the cursive type of Chinese character, generally 
formed by one part or side (kata) being taken to represent 
the whole. Thus, while tp is the hiragana for i, formed by 
a cursive abbreviation of the character J£J (which is pro- 
nounced i), the corresponding katakana form is J, which is 
the side of the character ffi, also pronounced *. Similarly 
both katakana and hiragana signs for the sound ro are 
derived from the character g, the katakana being n, which 
is a part of g, and the hiragana being /? which is a cursive 
form of the whole character g. 

As might be expected, the convenience of these syllabaries 
encouraged the use of what we have called the Mixed 
Phonetic Script (Kanamajiri) , and this has now after certain 
vicissitudes come to be the normal script for representing 
Japanese, employed in all printed and manuscript docu- 
ments. The admixture of kana varies according to the writer 
and to the literacy which he expects from his reader. There 
is no general rule, but the method may be roughly described 
as follows : 

1. All words of Chinese origin, most uninfected Japanese 

words, and the stems of inflected words are written 
by means of complete Chinese characters, used 

2. Grammatical terminations and particles are written in 



3. Katakana, despite their greater simplicity, are not in 
general use, even among the uneducated, and they 
are generally reserved, in print at least, for writing 
foreign words, colloquialisms, &c, or as a typo- 
graphical device equivalent to italics. 

Consequently, in a continuous text, the word ron, a Sinico- 
Japanese word, is written gfo ; the word tama, 'a jewel', is 
written 3£, which is the Chinese character for the Chinese 
word meaning 'jewel', and the word odoroku, 'to fear', is 
written by means of the character ||, which stands for the 
Chinese word meaning 'to fear'. But since odoroku, being 
a verb, is inflected, it is necessary to show its inflexions, 
and this is done by means of the kana. The character || 
is regarded as representing the constant portion of odoroku, 
namely, the stem odoro-, and the inflexional affixes are repre- 
sented by units of the syllabary. Thus, the forms odoroku, 
odoroki, odorokitari, &c, are written : 

odoro-ku odoro-ki odoro-kitari 

m m * 


The particles are almost without exception written in kana. 
As thus described, the system sounds simple, but the 
student of Japanese soon discovers a host of unexpected 
difficulties. In the first place, when he sees a Chinese 
character not followed by kana, he may be reasonably sure 
that it represents either a Chinese word or an uninfected 
Japanese word. But how is he to tell which ? He may 
come across, for instance, the character 3£ and be uncertain 
as to whether to give it the Japanese reading tama or the 
Chinese reading gyoku. Two characters like £3 j£ 'white- 
clouds', may stand for the Chinese compound haku-un or 
the Japanese compound shirakumo. A single character such 
as ^ may have, as we have already seen, a go-on reading, 
sho ; or a kan-on reading, set ; or any of the several Japanese 
readings, ikiru, nama, ki, umu, &c. These and kindred diffi- 
culties will face him at every step and, though a practised 
reader will generally make no mistakes, it is not an exaggera- 
tion to say that absolute certainty in reading Japanese texts 


whether ancient or modern is almost unattainable. In support 
of this statement it is only necessary to refer to the method, 
in general use in printed matter for which wide publicity is 
sought, of putting at the side of every character small kana 
which represent its sound. In nearly all newspapers and 
popular magazines this practice is followed. 1 An example will 
make it clear : 



















y) n 

One hesitates for an epithet to describe a system of writing 
which is so complex that it needs the aid of another system 
to explain it. There is no doubt that it provides for some 
a fascinating field of study, but as a practical instrument it 
is surely without inferiors. One might suppose that one of 
the two syllabaries could be substituted entirely for the 
Chinese character, with great advantage to Japan, but quite 
apart from that natural conservatism which resists any 
attempts to break down what has been built up in the course 
of centuries, there are serious practical objections to such 
a reform. This is not the place to discuss them, but they 
may be summarized by saying that, with the importation 
of Chinese words, Japanese has developed in some measure 
the homophonous quality of Chinese, and the visual aid of 
the Chinese character is still necessary for understanding 
1 Even in the official Readers used in primary schools there 
appear occasionally characters to which kana must be affixed, 
because, without them, the reading is uncertain. Thus, in many 
contexts, nobody can say, without a kana gloss, whether _£ should 
be read agaru, ' to go up ', or noboru ' to ascend '. 


a Japanese text. The function of the kana written at the 
side of the characters is not to explain them, but to eke out 
their meanings by specifying their sounds. It is as difficult 
to read the kana without the characters as to read the 
characters without the kana. 

In discussing the nature of the Chinese script we have seen 
that it is more correctly described as logographic than as 
ideographic. The Chinese word which a single character 
represents does, it is true, convey an idea, and, since one 
Chinese word is invariably represented by one and the same 
character, the character is to that extent an ideograph. But 
the meaning of a Chinese word may vary enormously accord- 
ing to position and to context, while the character remains 
without change ; and in Chinese therefore the character may 
properly be said to represent a word rather than an idea. 

The Japanese use of the Chinese character may, however, 
with some reason be regarded as ideographic. We saw in 
discussing the character ^ that, although it stands always 
for one Chinese word, sheng, this word may mean 'to live', 
1 to bear ', ' to be born ', ' raw ', ' strange ', ' to grow ', ' a pupil ', 
and so on. But in Japanese, when we find the character ^ 
we assign to it a different word according to the idea which 
it is intended to convey, reading it, for instance, as umu if 
it means 'to bear', and ikiru if it means 'to live'. In other 
words, a Japanese reader considers the whole range of ideas 
covered by the character ^, and then selects as its equivalent 
the Japanese word which conveys the particular idea in- 
tended. We may therefore say, without abuse of language, 
that though the Chinese script as used by the Chinese is now 
a logographic script, as used by the Japanese it is largely 

There is one important aspect of the development of the 
Japanese script which must be given special attention, and 
that is the mutual relation between Japanese sounds and 
what we may call Japanese spelling. It is evident that, at 
some period in the development of the script, probably about 
the time when the hiragana and katakana syllabaries were 
contrived, Japanese scholars began to analyse the sounds 
of which Japanese words were composed, and, since they 
selected forty-seven symbols in each set of kana, we must 
suppose that they discerned forty-seven sounds. 


It was not until some centuries later (the eleventh century) 
that another classification appeared, in the form of a table 
described as the scheme of fifty sounds. Now the distin- 
guishing feature of these and all other native classifications 
of Japanese sounds is that the unit is always a syllable, and 
it has always been the custom, in analysing Japanese words, 
to distinguish only syllables, and not to go further by dis- 
secting those syllables into their constituent vowels and 
consonants. This is a point which should be borne in mind 
in all discussions of Japanese etymology. I have seen it 
stated, in a learned essay upon the origins of Japanese, that 
Japanese must always have been a syllabic language, because 
when they came to write it they wrote it syllable by syllable. 
Such a statement will not bear examination. It is obvious 
that the syllabic method of writing Japanese is due in the 
first place to the fact that the Chinese system which they 
borrowed was a syllabic one, and could not be used in any 
other way. But that does not by any means prove that 
the further division of Japanese sounds was unnatural or 
impossible. The classification made by the scholars who 
drew up the tables of kana was a classification of symbols 
and not a classification of sounds. If we take a Japanese 
verb like yuku and examine its various forms we find yuki, 
yuka, said yuke. Which of these are we to regard as a stem, 
if for etymological purposes we wish to postulate one ? The 
constant portion of all these forms is yuk. True, it cannot 
be written by means of the Japanese syllabary ; but that 
fact alone is not sufficient to prove that such an entity never 
existed. It is true that to modern Japanese forms like yuk 
signify nothing, and I am far from asserting that these are 
the real stems of Japanese verbs. The question of early 
Japanese sounds is a very obscure one, and cannot properly 
be discussed in a treatise on grammar, but I allude to it here 
because it has some bearing on grammatical problems. For 
instance, if yuk is a stem, then the forms yuka, yuki, yuke, 
yuku are made by agglutination, and we should expect to find 
that the agglutinated vowels had at one time some indepen- 
dent significance. If, on the other hand, yuk is not a stem, 
the vowels a, i, e, and u are inflexions. I am inclined to the 
latter view, but I do not think it should be taken for granted 
that syllables are the ultimate constituents of Japanese words. 


It is true, however, that as Japanese words are now pro- 
nounced, and, it appears, as they were pronounced at least 
as far back as the seventh century, they are all composed of 
syllables, consisting either of a vowel, or of a consonant 
followed by a vowel. The fifty sounds above referred to 
may be set forth as follows, as represented by katakana and 
a uniform transliteration. 

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 

A * V + "..'.* : . ..t 1 9 5* 

$ P .' *' "9 * ' y ** &> ., . I* 


* a V \ S * =& 3 -0 ? 

(A &awa character 5/ was later used to represent the final 
n sound which, strictly speaking, did not exist in Japanese. 
In early texts, for instance, future forms which are now 
written with n, as aran, were written with mu, as aramu. 
The final n sound doubtless was due to the need for repro- 
ducing the termination ng of Chinese words.) 

The sounds in columns 1 and 2 call for no comment. In 
column 3, the syllable represented by si is now pronounced 
more like shi, but it is*probable that its earlier pronuncia- 
tion was si. In column 4, ti is now pronounced chi (as in 
'chicken'). There is no evidence as to the early pronuncia- 
tion, but there are indications that all the syllables in this 
series once had an initial sound intermediate between t and 
ts. Similar observations apply to tu, which is pronounced 
tsu. Column 5 offers no difficulty. In column 6 the modern 
pronunciations are ha, hi, fu, he, ho. There is very good 
evidence to show that the early forms of these syllables were 
not aspirate plus vowel but labial plus vowel, which might 


be represented approximately by pa, pi, pu, pe, po, or better 
perhaps by pha, phi, phu, phe, pho. 1 

Columns 7 and 9 require no comment. Column 8, repre- 
sented by ya, yi, yu, ye, yo, has, it will be seen, no kana 
equivalent for yi and j^, but it is almost certain from etymo- 
logical evidence that a syllable yi did once exist. At present 
yi is assimilated to i, A. As for ye, though there is no kana 
symbol for it, there is very little doubt that the symbol j., 
now assigned to the sound e, originally stood for ye, and 
indeed that the modern pronunciation of ^- is nearer ye than 
e. In column 10 there is no kana for wu, but here again it 
is pretty certain from early texts that wu originally existed, 
and that it was originally represented by j> ', which has now 
been transferred to the column of simple vowels as u. 

Though the above table represents what are called in 
Japanese the ' pure ' sounds, there are ' impure ' sounds corre- 
sponding to each of the columns 2, 3, 4, 6, namely, GA, GI, 
GU, GE, GO • ZA, ZI, ZU, ZE, ZO ; DA, DI, DU, DE, 
DO; and BA, BI, BU, BE, BO. These are represented by 
adding a diacritic mark xv , called a nigori or 'impurity', to 
the kana for the 'pure' syllables. Thus we have ^j = ka and 
tf=ga. There are also half-impure sounds, PA, PI, PU, 
PE, PO, represented by a mark °, as ^ for pa. There is 
not much doubt about the early pronunciation of these 
'impure' sounds, but there is a difference of opinion as to 
their proper transliteration. On the whole ji is preferable 
for s?, simply because more usual than zi, but for etymo- 
logical purposes one should distinguish between the sound 
ji, which is the 'impure' form of shi, and the sound ji, which 
is the ' impure ' form of chi, although in ordinary pronuncia- 
tion little or no difference can be noticed. Similarly, the 
impure forms of su and tsu, both usually written zu, should 
not be confused, and it is useful to write zu for the former 
and dzu for the latter. 

It will already be clear that the kana spelling of Japanese 
words is not easy. There are many difficulties which we 
have not yet exposed. It is not necessary here to give a full 

1 I remember once seeing a Japanese kana rendering of the title 
' Who 's Who ', which, if read according to the usual transliteration, 
was Fusu Fu ! It is significant that the sonant forms corresponding 
to the group ha, hi, fu, he, ho are ba, bi, bu, be, bo. 



account of the way in which the syllabary is used to repre- 
sent compound sounds, but it is desirable to state the chief 
rules. The key to all of them is that the old language never 
has a syllable beginning with a vowel, except at the be- 
ginning of a word. The next important rule is that, except 
at the beginning of a word, the aspirates of the ha column 
are lost in pronunciation. It follows that the combinations 
given below form by crasis the compound sounds shown 
against them. 

a plus u becomes 6 

a ,, fu ,, d 

o , 

, u , 

» o 

o , 

, fu 

» o 

o , 

, ho , 

» o 

o , 

, wo , 

» o 

ye , 

, u , 

, yd 

ye , 

, fu 


ye , 

, , 

, yd 

ye , 

, ho , 


* > 

• fu 

, til 

te pi 

lis fu bee 

omes chd 

de , 

, fu 


he , 

, fu 

,, hyd 

se , 

, fu 

,, shd 


and so on — a stroke over a vowel indicating that it is long. 

It will be seen that the correct kana spelling of many 
compound sounds is a matter of considerable difficulty, and 
indeed is often the subject of controversy. It is frequently 
hard to say whether the sound shd, for instance, should be 
written by kana representing se-fu or those representing shi- 
ya-u or shi-ya-fu, or even shi-yo-fu. 

These rules, if borne in mind, explain a number of sound 
changes in Japanese which are otherwise puzzling. Chief 
among these are : 

i. The particle usually written ha is always pronounced 
wa, because, of its nature, it cannot come at the 
beginning of a word, but is regarded as incorporated 
with the word which it follows and modifies. Thus 
hana ha becomes hanawa, because the aspirate is 

3270 H 


lost in pronunciation and, since Japanese does not 
tolerate two similar vowels in succession, the com- 
bination hana a is made hanawa in ordinary speech. 

2. The particle he, in the same way, is pronounced e. 

3. For similar reasons, verb conjugations which, in the 

correct kana spelling, are written on the model of 
omofu, omohi, omoha, omohe, are pronounced omou, 
omoi, omowa, omoe. 

Owing to these peculiarities of the kana spelling, the 
problem of transliteration into our alphabet is a difficult one. 
For practical purposes the simplest solution is to represent 
alphabetically the modern Japanese sounds. The practice 
followed by Aston, Chamberlain, and Satow in their philo- 
logical works on Japanese was to reproduce exactly the kana 
spelling, writing, for instance, safurafu for a word which is 
now pronounced soro ; and this plan has the merit of making 
clear the development of many forms which is obscured by 
the modern alphabetical spelling. It is an approach to a 
scientific method, but it is not entirely satisfactory. The 
ideal method, for philological studies, would be to use a com- 
plete phonetic notation, and to apply it historically by repre- 
senting every word quoted as it was pronounced at the period 
under discussion. To write safurafu consistently for soro 
obviously does not fulfil these requirements. We know that 
the earliest recorded kana spelling of soro was -f- 7 7 7 
which we may choose to transliterate as safurafu ; but we 
do not know whether safurafu represents the pronunciation 
of, say, the Nara period any more accurately than does soro, 
while we are at least certain that soro displays with some 
accuracy the modern pronunciation. A student of Japanese 
who has enough knowledge to pursue etymological inquiries 
cannot be misled by such a spelling as soro, since he must 
be acquainted with the lines along which Japanese sounds 
have developed. A person learning Japanese for practical 
purposes does not need to know that soro was at one time 
pronounced something like safurafu. In the following pages, 
therefore, I have thought it best not to adopt any arbitrary 
transliteration, but to retain that which is in common use 
in Japan when it is desired to write Japanese words in our 
alphabet. In this system consonants are sounded as in 


English, vowels as in Italian, lengthened vowels standing for 
the combinations a plus/w, plus u, &c., are written 0, and 
Sinico-Japanese words are treated in the same way — thus, 
chu, kyu, &c. 

It should be added, for the sake of accuracy, that though 
Japanese vowel sounds are usually described as being like 
those of Italian, they are much shorter and lighter ; and 
since there is hardly any stress accent vowels play a much 
less important part in spoken Japanese than in Italian. The 
vowel u in particular is almost elided in ordinary speech in 
a number of words — e. g. des' for desu, tas'keru for tasukeru, 
&c. The negative termination nu is often pronounced and 
sometimes written as if it were n, e. g. j- # 1/ instead of 
a. jj st.. In Sinico-Japanese words a final tsu usually 
stands for an original Chinese final consonant t, as in gwatsu 
for ^J ngwat ; a final ku for an original Chinese k, as in moku 
for t}c mok. Similarly a final Chinese n or ng was usually 
in early writings represented by a kana symbol for mu. 

§ 3. Later Developments of the Language, and Divergence 
between Spoken and Written Forms 

The specimens of Japanese which have come down to us 
from the archaic period, that is, the fifth, sixth, and seventh 
centuries of our era, consist of poetry and prose, represented 
by the songs in the Kojiki and the Shinto rituals. Their 
language may be regarded as purely native, with the excep- 
tion perhaps of an occasional Chinese or Korean word so 
thoroughly disguised as to be indistinguishable from indi- 
genous forms. The distinction between poetry and prose is 
not well marked, for the poetry is characterized only by 
a loose and irregular metre and some inversions of word 
order. The songs, we may fairly assume, are echoes of 
archaic colloquial, and the language of the rituals, though 
naturally somewhat high-flown and elaborate, probably did 
not differ in essentials from contemporary speech. 

After the introduction of Chinese learning, the spoken and 
written languages began to diverge. It is a process which 
can be traced in most languages, but in Japanese it was 
intensified by the exceptional circumstance that, when the 
Japanese borrowed the Chinese script, they were obliged, as 


we have seen, to take along with it both Chinese words and, 
in a much less degree, Chinese constructions. We have 
therefore on the one hand the special influence of Chinese 
upon all modes of writing Japanese, and on the other hand 
the general influence of colloquial forms which, in all lan- 
guages, tends to break down the conservative forces of 
scholarship and, let us add, pedantry. The history of the 
development of Japanese after the archaic period is largely 
a history of the conflict between these two influences. But 
it is a conflict in which there is an unusual element, for 
the written language depends upon symbols which have a 
primarily visual appeal, and therefore opposes resistance to 
the invasion of colloquial forms, designed for the ear and 
not the eye. It is only a phonetic script which can properly 
reproduce colloquial usages, and consequently the divergence 
between Japanese writing and speech is, in its extremes, 
a very wide one. When studying it we should always bear 
in mind that, in so far as the script remained ideographic or 
logographic, not only could the written language not easily 
imitate the spoken language, but also, conversely, the spoken 
language could not freely incorporate words and locutions 
which the written language was able to take over from 
Chinese with little or no change. 

Following upon the archaic period came what we may 
describe as the Classical period, of which the chief literary 
monuments fall into two well-contrasted divisions — the first 
comprising the poems of the Manyoshu (the later volumes) and 
Kokinshu, and prose works like the Preface to the Kokinshu, 
the Tosa Nikki, &c. ; the second consisting of prose and 
poetry written by Japanese in Chinese, or a combination of 
Chinese and Japanese. It is convenient to describe first the 
language of this latter group. The Chinese poetry, though 
not without literary importance, may be neglected. The 
prose, however, exercised a great influence upon the subse- 
quent development of Japanese, and it is therefore desirable 
to describe it in some detail. We have seen that, when the 
Japanese first became acquainted with the Chinese script, 
they confined themselves for a time to writing Chinese, or, 
it would perhaps be more accurate to say, their aim was 
to write Chinese. The earliest specimens of Chinese prose 
written by Japanese, no doubt under the eyes of Chinese 


or Korean instructors, were relatively pure and free from 
' japonicisms '. In the Heian period (800-1186) the influence 
of Chinese culture was exceedingly powerful, in government 
and ceremonies as well as in art and letters, and though the 
Buddhist religion had a wider appeal than the Confucian 
ethic, its doctrines were spread in Japan through the medium 
of the Chinese language. Numerous academies, both public 
and private, devoted to Chinese learning flourished in Kyoto 
in the early part of this period, and no court noble or official 
could hope to rise to eminence if he were not able to write 
Chinese verses and to make apt quotations from the Chinese 
classics. From A. D. 797 there were successively compiled in 
Japan a number of historical works like the Shoku Nihongi, 
the Nihon Goki, and the Sandai Jitsuroku, anthologies of 
verse, laws, ceremonial codes, and miscellaneous treatises, all 
of which were in the Chinese language. Meanwhile imported 
Chinese works were being copied and expounded, and 
Japanese scholars wrote their commentaries in Chinese. It 
was probably not often very good Chinese, but it passed 
muster and might have been understood by a Chinaman. 
Soon, however, under the influence of the system of reading 
Chinese texts with the aid of diacritics according to Japanese 
syntax, there sprang up a style of prose which was not an 
imitation of Chinese so much as an imitation of a literal 
translation of Chinese. It is doubtful whether the history 
of language contains a more astonishing example of the 
mutilation of a foreign tongue. It is so curious and com- 
plicated that it is difficult to describe intelligibly, but perhaps 
some idea of its nature can be conveyed by saying that it is 
as if a writer of English were to set down his thoughts in 
Latin, or what he supposed to be Latin, and then to read 
what he had written in accordance not with the Latin syntax 
and word order but his own, leaving some words unchanged, 
converting some into English, now following or imitating the 
Latin construction, and now adding English words to eke 
out the sense. This process of writing what is usually called 
Sinico-Japanese is, then, a threefold one. The writer first 
thinks of a sentence in Japanese. This he translates into 
Chinese, or as near as he can get to Chinese, which means 
that he must set down a series of characters in an order 
quite different from the Japanese order of words, and must 


substitute for the particles and the terminations of verbs 
various Chinese grammatical devices of an entirely different 
nature. Then, when he or another comes to read it, the 
missing particles and terminations must be supplied, and 
the final result is neither the Japanese sentence first thought 
of, nor its correct Chinese translation, but a hybrid thing, 
incomprehensible to a Chinaman, and even to a Japanese 
without special study. To understand the development of 
this curiosity of literature, one must realize that the Japanese 
as a rule possessed not so much a knowledge of Chinese as 
a knowledge of Chinese books. The living language of China 
was rarely known to them, and they were probably for the 
most part far less capable of writing good Chinese prose than 
a modern classical scholar of turning out a tolerable imitation 
of Cicero. 

Had the Japanese not developed the phonetic use of 
Chinese characters, they might have continued to write in 
unrelieved Sinico- Japanese, with results too horrible to con- 
template. Fortunately other influences were at work. The 
simplification of the various systems of kana favoured the 
growth of a written language in which the native element 
could be used alone, or mixed with Chinese in whatever pro- 
portion was desired ; while certain changes in the political 
relations between Japan and China in the reign of the 
Emperor Uda seem to have somewhat diminished the prestige 
of Chinese studies. Consequently we find, in the tenth cen- 
tury, a number of works in a mixed phonetic script, which 
we may regard as pure classical Japanese prose. They con- 
sist chiefly of folk-lore and fairy tales, some of which, like 
the stories of the White Rabbit and of Urashima, the 
Japanese Rip Van Winkle, had already been recorded in 
the Sinico- Japanese of the early chronicles ; or they are 
romances of more recent composition, often making use of 
materials borrowed from China. They are comprehensively 
styled monogatari, which means simply 'tales', and the 
earliest of them appear to be the Ise Monogatari and the 
Taketori Monogatari, ascribed to the early part of the tenth 
century. They are written in pure Japanese of the period, 
by means of kana with a slight admixture of Chinese charac- 
ters. The constructions show no sign of Chinese influence, 
and though the vocabulary includes Chinese words, these are 


evidently words which were already well assimilated, so that 
altogether one cannot be far out in assuming that their 
language is substantially the same as the current speech of 
the period. These early works represent classical Japanese 
prose in its purest form. They were followed by other mono- 
gatari of a similar nature, and by certain diaries and miscel- 
lanies in which the element of pure Japanese predominated. 
For our purposes it is sufficient to refer only to a few of 
these — the Tosa Nikki, Kokinshu preface, and the Genji 

The Tosa Nikki is a travel diary, describing events in 
A. d. 935. It opens with a passage in which the author 
explains that he has set out to write a woman's diary, an 
interesting statement by which he means that he uses the 
Japanese language and a mixed phonetic script in which 
kana predominate, whereas men as a rule used the Chinese 
character and wrote in Chinese. The Kokinshu preface (922) , 
which is the work of the same author, similarly purports 
to be pure Japanese prose, but it is written in a flowery 
style clearly influenced by Chinese, and it is somewhat of 
an exhibition of literary dexterity rather than a straight- 
forward piece of ordinary Japanese writing. These two 
works, and the earliest monogatari, are, however, sufficient 
to show that in the tenth century it was possible for the 
Japanese to write, in the native script which they had by 
then brought to a fairly practical stage, the native language 
as it was then spoken and a prose which was not a slavish 
imitation of Chinese. From these promising beginnings there 
might have grown, but for certain unfavourable influences 
which we shall presently discuss, a native prose not widely 
divergent from the spoken language yet capable of all ordinary 
uses, whether narrative, descriptive, didactic, or official. And 
indeed during the tenth century classical Japanese prose did 
undergo a further development, and reached in the Genji 
Monogatari a very high point ; but beyond this it did not 

The Genji Monogatari, written by a Court lady called 
Murasaki Shikibu, in about a. d. 1000, is regarded by 
many Japanese as the high-water mark of Japanese litera- 
ture, and, though we are not concerned here with its literary 
excellence, it is true that, in the hands of its remarkable 


authoress, classical Japanese prose became a powerful and 
flexible instrument of expression. The spoken language of 
the day, with its now well-established syntax and its pro- 
fusion of grammatical appliances, is enriched by occasional 
adaptations rather than imitations of Chinese constructions 
and diversified by a moderate use of words of Chinese origin. 
The writer's skill enables her to use, for purposes which are 
chiefly, but not exclusively, narrative and descriptive, the 
speech current in the cultivated society to which she be- 
longed, to make of it a literary medium much better express- 
ing the native temperament than the hybrid Sinico-Japanese 
of her masculine contemporaries. That the language of the 
Genji Monogatari is, except in the matter of care and polish, 
not essentially different from the colloquial of the period 
is clear from internal evidence. We find, for instance, 
phonetically reproduced in the text various contractions like 
arazan-nari for arazaru nari, toko for iakaku, &c, which are 
obviously colloquial forms, while Chinese words are some- 
times written out at length, in their current pronunciation. 
But, remarkable as was the achievement of Murasaki no 
Shikibu in writing a very long novel in her native tongue — 
for it must be remembered that previous monogatari had been 
brief and disjointed — even her genius could not overcome 
the inherent defects of the pure Japanese style. Though 
her work is undoubtedly the finest specimen of native prose 
of the classical period, and though it contains a fair propor- 
tion of Chinese words, it cannot be said to display any of 
the merits of conciseness which distinguish written Chinese. 
Owing to the structural peculiarities of Japanese, it is com- 
posed of incredibly long sentences, terribly involved, and to 
modern readers at least sometimes obscure ; and since its 
characters are persons of high court rank, it so abounds in 
honorific words and phrases that it is sometimes difficult 
to disentangle them. For a leisurely description of the 
elaborate, ceremonious, and artificial life about the Court, 
such a style was well suited, but it may readily be imagined 
that the interminable and intricate Japanese sentence leading 
through a maze of gerunds up to a far-distant final verb, 
the complicated system of agglutinative suffixes, even the 
length of individual words when written out syllable by 
syllable in kana instead of figured by a single symbol, were, 


for more immediately practical purposes than those of 
romance, not so convenient as the brief and simple con- 
structions of Chinese. I do not go so far as to say that, 
given the intention and the inducement, Japanese classical 
prose could not have been fashioned into an instrument well 
adapted for all literary purposes. Such a development was 
doubtless possible ; but it did not take place, and this failure 
is due in a great measure to the superior prestige of Chinese 
studies, and to the great advantages of the Chinese system 
of writing, which despite all its obvious defects is, we must 
admit, an unrivalled medium for concise and compact state- 
ment. Following the Genji Monogatari there came a number 
of romances, sketches, and diaries in a similar style, but it 
is significant that nearly all of these were the work of women. 
The reason is not far to seek. We have already noticed that 
Tsurayuki explained the form of his diary by saying that he 
had written in the character of a woman ; and broadly 
speaking it may be said that, at his period and for a long 
time subsequently, prose writing in kana was regarded as 
only suitable for women, while Chinese was the proper 
medium for men. Consequently we find, from the tenth 
century onwards, two distinct kinds of prose writing in 
Japan, the one descended from such works as the Tosa Nikki, 
the other derived from Chinese. The classical Japanese 
prose was not far removed from current speech, the Sinico- 
Japanese prose was, in its most rigid forms, a purely literary 
medium. It is here that we have the beginnings of the 
divergence between spoken and written Japanese which has 
continued until recent times. From the classical prose there 
developed a classical epistolary style, and a style used in 
novels until ^the beginning of the Meiji period. Further, 
there took place, from the latter part of the eighteenth 
century, a nationalist revival in learning and religion led by 
such great native scholars as Mabuchi and Motoori who in 
their treatises deliberately reverted to the classical style. In 
their capable hands it seems to be an admirable means of 
expression ; it is pure and lucid although it rigidly observes 
the ancient grammatical rules. The subjects of which they 
treated, whether religious or philological or historical, were 
all drawn from Japanese antiquity, so that the classical 
vocabulary and the classical style were for their purposes as 
3270 j 


adequate as they were appropriate. But this neo-classical 
prose was artificial, and so foredoomed to failure. After 
flourishing, in a restricted field, for less than a century, it 
fell into disuse. The sole surviving descendant, in the direct 
line, of classical Japanese prose is now the epistolary lan- 
guage used by women, and even this, in the last few years, 
has gone out of fashion. 

We see, then, that pure Japanese, by which we understand 
the native language without important structural change 
and with only a sparing admixture of imported words, was 
destined not to become a literary medium. In the classical 
period, as we have pointed out, there existed alongside of the 
native prose the style of writing known as Sinico-Japanese. 
It is from this composite form that the modern written 
language of Japan is derived. While, in the tenth century, 
poems, romances, and belles lettres in general were being 
written in the classical style, graver if less agreeable works 
were being composed in Chinese which varied in purity 
according to the time, the subject, and the writer's skill. 

By a natural division of function the Sinico-Japanese style 
was used for political documents and works of a similar 
nature ; for, while the native language was well suited for 
poetry and romance, these serious compositions, it was felt, 
must be couched in the more learned style sanctified by so 
many centuries of Chinese chronicles and proclamations and 
ethical treatises. The most characteristic specimens are 
therefore to be found in the early medieval edicts, which 
(apart from some belonging to the Nara period which are 
recorded in the Shoku Nihongi) are all in Chinese composed 
by Japanese. It is interesting to note that the official 
histories of the Heian period and such quasi-legal works as 
the Institutes of Engi (Engishiki) are in Chinese, while 
history with a romantic tinge, as in the Yeigwa Monogatari, 
is modelled in style upon the previous romances. An idea 
of the importance attached to Chinese studies may be gained 
from the fact that it was thought proper to furnish the 
Kokinshu, an official anthology of native verse, with a 
Chinese preface in addition to the Japanese preface written 
by Tsurayuki. Indeed it is stated that Tsurayuki's preface 
was a translation of the Chinese one. 

We have already traced the beginnings of the Sinico- 


Japanese style and seen that it arose from the peculiar 
Japanese method of reading Chinese texts. Its subsequent 
development, though too complicated for description here in 
detail, may be summarized as a gradual divergence from 
pure Chinese. Two important causes contributed to this 
divergence — a deficient knowledge of Chinese, and the in- 
fluence of the colloquial, either direct or through the medium 
of the native prose. From the end of the eleventh century 
and throughout what is called the Kamakura period, Japan 
was under the domination of a military caste, and learning 
was at a low ebb. Chinese studies accordingly languished, 
and there were few who could write anything approaching 
pure Chinese prose. But still, in official documents, corre- 
spondence, records, and so on, the outward form of Chinese 
was retained, though the substance, the foundation, was the 
native language of the day. The Sinico-Japanese method 
had reached the ultimate point of absurdity, when, in order 
to write a simple Japanese sentence, its elements had to be 
altered and rearranged, and in order to read it, it had to 
be reconverted into something like its original form. It is 
astonishing that such a difficult method should have per- 
sisted, but it did remain in use for centuries, and it survives 
even to this day in the formal epistolary language. What 
contributed to its preservation was no doubt a certain con- 
ciseness and compression which is inherent in the Chinese 
symbol, and which the kana writing certainly does not share. 
Most students of Japanese will agree that texts in the 
apparently simple kana syllabary are laborious to write and 
difficult to read. However, the Sinico-Japanese style, in its 
most correct form — that is, when it most nearly approached 
pure Chinese — could only be used or apprehended by persons 
with special knowledge ; while in its loosest form, when it 
was merely a rearrangement of Japanese words eked out by 
an occasional Chinese locution, it had no advantages over 
a straightforward reproduction of the current speech, with 
such literary ornament as the writer might choose to add. 
Consequently, though high Sinico-Japanese continued to be 
written by a small number of scholars, the ordinary prose, 
from the Middle Ages onwards, grew less and less like its 
Chinese original. At the same time, it must be understood 
that it differed both in nature and development from the 


classical native prose which we have described. That, as we 
have seen, descended in a direct line from the archaic native 
language, and was relatively free from Chinese influence. 
The Sinico-Japanese, however corrupt and, if we may use 
the term, japonicized, had a Chinese origin, from which it 
could never entirely depart. As time went on, writers 
abandoned even the Chinese order of words, and wrote some- 
thing which was an approach to the colloquial in which their 
thoughts were formed ; but the long use of Chinese and 
pseudo-Chinese had established a number of Chinese locu- 
tions as part of the grammatical apparatus of the written 
language, and these were retained. Moreover, from the latter 
part of the Heian period, the adoption of Chinese words and 
Chinese compounds into both spoken and written languages 
had proceeded apace. Even without those special reasons 
which, as we shall presently see, exist in the case of Japanese, 
writing can absorb a greater number of foreign words than 
speech. Chinese compound words, in particular, were more 
convenient and expressive than the polysyllabic equivalents 
in Japanese, and it was natural that the special vocabularies 
of Buddhism, Confucianism, and many branches of learning 
should be adopted from China. We find, therefore, develop- 
ing from the Kamakura period onwards, a written language 
which is the ancestor of the written language of to-day and 
in which we can discern two influences — that of the collo- 
quial, upon which the ultimate structure of the sentence 
depends, and that of Chinese, which provides a great part 
of the vocabulary, a number of idioms and turns of phrase, 
and, it might be added, certain tricks of style like the double 
negative, the rhetorical question, and the antithetical phrase. 
The early stages of this language are well exhibited in such 
historical romances as the Heike Monogatari (c. 1200) and the 
Taiheiki (c. 1370). Both these works, and in particular the 
latter, may be regarded as the foundation of modern literary 
Japanese. Their language differs from that of the mono- 
gatari of the Heian period in several important respects. 
Owing to the influence of Sinico-Japanese, simplified forms 
take the place of the elaborate grammatical structure of, say, 
the Genji with its full apparatus of particles and termina- 
tion ; and the vocabulary includes a very high proportion 
of Chinese words, many of which have not passed through 



the colloquial but have been taken direct from Chinese 
literature, in particular from Buddhistic works. 

It is hardly necessary to trace further the development of 
the Japanese written language until the Meiji period, nor 
indeed can it be satisfactorily done without study of original 
texts. In the foregoing pages I am conscious of having 
drawn somewhat too definitely the distinction between 
various styles. Language is a fluid thing, and one style can, 
of course, easily merge into another. Thus, though I have 
strongly contrasted the development of Classical Japanese 
and Sinico- Japanese, it is obvious that, except in their 
extreme purity, they must have had a mutual influence. 
But, subject to this reservation, I think that the main lines 
of development were substantially as stated above ; and 
they can be shown diagrammatically as follows : 

Archaic Japanese 

Early Classical 

Chinese Prose 

Sinico- Japanese 
early medieval 

5th century. 

8th century. 

Classical Classical Classical War tales Episto- Official "J 10th to 
Essays Epistles Romances lary style Docu- W4thcen- 

ments J turies. 

Neo- Women's Meiji Ordinary Men's Meiji 

Classical Letters Novels Meiji Letters Sinico 

Prose (obsoles- (obsoles- Prose (obsoles- Japanese 

cent) cent) (obsolete) J 

] 15th 

9th cen- 

( obsolete) cent) 

This table stops short at the Meiji period, because, from 
the second half of the nineteenth century, when Japan was 
thrown open to intercourse with the Western world, her 
language, in common with all her institutions, was subjected 
to a new set of influences, which are still operative. The 
later developments of Japanese therefore require separate 

So far we have referred only in passing to the development 
of spoken Japanese, and confined ourselves to remarking 
that the colloquial has continuously exercised an influence 
upon the written language. There is good reason to believe, 


as we have seen, that the medieval colloquial did not sub- 
stantially differ from the prose of the medieval romances. 
But already in the days of the monogatari there are evidences 
of a divergence between spoken and written forms. The 
spoken language of the Middle Ages, if we are justified, as 
I believe we are, in assuming it to be similar to the written 
language of the Genji, had the following main characteristics : 

1. The structure of the sentence was of the native Japanese 

type. Any statement, however complicated, forms 
one sentence whose members are grammatically 
interdependent. Thus, you do not say 'This egg is 
bad. I cannot eat it', but 'This egg, being bad, eat 
can not'. The less important words in a sentence 
precede the more important ones, so that adjective 
precedes noun, adverb precedes verb, our preposi- 
tions are in Japanese post-positions, and the verb is 
always the final element. 

2. Moods, tenses, and similar aspects of the verb are 

expressed by the agglutination of suffixes, often 
forming compounds of considerable length and com- 
plexity. Thus, we have kiku, to hear, but kikare- 
tarishi, 'has been heard'. 

The number of these suffixes in classical Japanese 
was considerable, and the rules governing their use 
were complicated. 

3. The vocabulary consisted chiefly of native words, of 

a polysyllabic type, and contained only a few words 
of Chinese origin, which had become naturalized by 
frequent use. 

It is clear that this was a language diametrically opposed 
in almost every respect to Chinese. Japanese was poly- 
syllabic and diffuse, Chinese was monosyllabic and brief. In 
Japanese the relations between words were indicated by a 
full system of particles and suffixes, in Chinese they were 
shown as a rule only by position ; tense, mood, &c, being 
expressed by special devices only where essential to prevent 
ambiguity. Japanese has few homophones which are likely 
to be confused, Chinese has many. In Japanese the order 
of words is the reverse of that in Chinese. It follows that 


every approximation of the Japanese written language to 
the Chinese form involved a divergence between writing and 
speech in Japanese. We have seen that, at one time, the 
Japanese endeavoured, by writing in what we have called 
Sinico-Japanese, to force their written language into a 
Chinese mould ; but that, though this hybrid style managed 
to survive in a remarkable way, it did at last break down 
under the more vital influence of the colloquial. The funda- 
mental structure of all but the most learned Sinico-Japanese 
was the structure of the native Japanese sentence. At the 
same time, the written language was able to incorporate in 
that structure a number of features belonging to Chinese 
which, for one reason or another, the spoken language did 
not require or could not assimilate. This is true of many 
idioms and of certain constructions ; but it is most apparent 
in the matter of vocabulary. We have seen that, from the 
earliest days of intercourse with China, the Japanese began 
to borrow Chinese words. This process continued on an 
increasing scale as they became better acquainted with 
Chinese things. But there is, in all languages, a natural 
limit to the absorption by the colloquial of imported words. 
The written language has a more powerful or a less fastidious 
digestion, and can assimilate almost anything that promises 
to be useful, while everyday speech will not take in an alien 
form until it has been thoroughly tested. Consequently there 
were many Chinese words which, though admitted in writing, 
were not current in ordinary conversation. Moreover, quite 
apart from this natural limitation, there was a special reason, 
and a very important one, why Chinese words, however use- 
ful in writing, could not be freely admitted into speech. 
Chinese contains an extraordinary number of homophones — 
words of the same sound but of different meanings. A great 
deal of Chinese syntax, and of such accidence as Chinese may 
be said to possess, is concerned with expressing distinctions 
between these homophones ; and these methods are supple- 
mented by the use of tones. The Japanese, however, could 
not, in speech, imitate either the Chinese tones or the gram- 
matical devices in question, and they were therefore unable 
to adopt into the colloquial as many Chinese words as they 
otherwise might have done. In writing, it was another 
matter, for each of a group of Chinese homophones had its 


own symbol, about which there could be no mistake. Thus, 
as we have seen, though fang might mean either ' square ' or 
'to ask', there could be no question as to the respective 
meanings of -)j and f#. It will be seen then that, making 
due allowance for the vitality of all spoken forms as com- 
pared with written ones, the influence of Chinese upon 
Japanese especially tended to differentiate the written from 
the spoken language. 

Further, the spoken language itself has since the classical 
period, in addition to changes in vocabulary, undergone a 
development which has not been followed by the written 
language. In this case the divergence is due to the con- 
servation by the written language of forms which the spoken 
language has gradually abandoned. It can be best explained 
by some simple examples. In the first place we have a dif- 
ference brought about by phonetic changes, which is well 
illustrated by the adjectival terminations. In classical 
Japanese the adjective had an attributive and a predicative 
form, e. g. yoki hito, 'a good man', hito wa yoshi, 'the man 
is good'. In modern colloquial Japanese the distinction 
between attributive and predicative is dropped, and by 
phonetic change the form yoki becomes yoi, so that we now 
say both yoi hito and hito wa yoi. In the written language, 
however, the forms yoki and yoshi both persist. It will be 
noticed that this phenomenon is not entirely analogous to 
a change of pronunciation not accompanied by a change 
in spelling, which often occurs in English. Similarly, in 
classical Japanese, there were a large number of verb suffixes, 
expressing mood, tense, voice, &c. Many of these have 
become obsolete in the modern language, both spoken and 
written, but some while surviving in writing are no longer 
used in speech. Thus the tense suffix tsu, as in yukitsu, 'did 
go', is no longer used in speech, and only in deliberately 
old-fashioned writing. In colloquial its place has been taken 
by a suffix ta, as in itta, 'went', which is itself a corruption 
of -tari, and this survives in the written language only, as 
in yukitari, 'went' (which has become ikitari, ikita, and 
finally itta in colloquial) . Similar examples might be almost 
indefinitely multiplied, but they can be found in their appro- 
priate places in the body of this work. Here it is sufficient 
to say that, owing to the various considerations outlined 


above, the spoken language, which in the tenth century was 
practically identical with the written language, had by the 
beginning of the Meiji period become so different from it as 
to involve for foreign students a separate study of each. 
The difference can be summarized by saying that the spoken 
language, by phonetic change and by simplification, lost a 
good deal of its agglutinative and synthetic character, while 
the written language retained most of the grammatical 
apparatus which the colloquial discarded. 

The development of the language after the beginning of 
the Meiji period is still progressing, and it therefore behoves 
one to speak with reserve on this subject. Some interesting 
phases which became apparent from the middle of the nine- 
teenth century are, however, worth notice. It may be said 
that, from the end of the Kamakura period, neither the 
written nor the spoken language underwent any special 
change due to alien influence. The spoken language followed 
the usual lines of phonetic change, as we have seen ; the 
written language was more conservative, and the tendency 
at the end of the eighteenth century was rather to neglect 
Chinese models and to revert to a pure classical style. 
Strangely enough, when Japan after 1850 began to adopt 
occidental culture, it was to China that she turned when she 
wished to find new words to name the new things and the 
new ideas with which she had become acquainted. Yet not 
so strange when one remembers the powerful advantages 
of the Chinese script. The Japanese might attempt to 
naturalize English words like 'railway' or 'electricity', but 
these could never be other than barbarous intruders ; they 
could never be written by means of the Chinese character ; 
and the limited resources of the kana could at best make of 
them some mutilated transcript like reiruei and erekkuchi- 
rishichi. It was far more convenient to borrow from China 
the compounds which had already been invented there to 
name these new things, US ^ tetsudo, ' iron-road ', for railway, 
and % ^ denki, 'lightning-spirit', for electricity. Thus we 
find that the Japanese language, throughout the nineteenth 
century, appropriated on an immense scale the Chinese 
vocabulary, and this while Japan was deliberately turning 
her back upon Chinese culture. It is a phenomenon not 
without parallel in Europe, where to name our modern 

3170 K 


discoveries, like the telephone and the vermiform appendix, 
we have resorted to the languages of Greece and Rome while 
steadily receding from their ways of thought. The effect of 
this tremendous influx of Chinese words upon the written, 
and to a less extent the spoken, language of Japan was 
almost revolutionary. The ordinary modern Japanese prose 
document, to quote Chamberlain, 'has scarcely anything 
Japanese about it save a few particles and the construction 
of the sentence', and the same is true, though not to the 
same extent, of all but the most familiar everyday speech. 
The frequency of Chinese homophones prevents their assimila- 
tion by the colloquial in such numbers as can be introduced 
in writing, for the ideograph speaks not to the ear but to 
the eye. Even so, the modern Japanese, in their daily inter- 
course, use many Chinese words and expressions which would 
have been all but unintelligible in speech a generation or so 
ago. The old Wagakusha, the native classical scholars of 
the type of Motoori — a now unhappily vanished school, 
sworn foes of Chinese learning — would have been shocked to 
hear and unlikely to understand young students discoursing 
about (for instance) seiji-teki kwannen, 'political conscious- 
ness', for not only are seiji and kwannen Chinese compounds, 
but teki is $J, a purely Chinese grammatical device unblush- 
ingly borrowed by modern Japan. 

Though the nature of their script makes it difficult for the 
Japanese to embody in their language foreign words other 
than Chinese, there are a few, like bata, for butter, biru, for 
beer, which have been thoroughly assimilated, and a number 
of terms, mostly technical, and mostly English, which are 
used more or less freely, sometimes alongside of, sometimes 
in preference to their Sinico- Japanese equivalents, which are 
not easily intelligible in speech. But generally speaking, 
the influence of European languages — in practice, one may 
say, the influence of English — has been more marked in 
phraseology than in separate units of the vocabulary. For 
many decades there has poured from Japanese presses a con- 
tinuous flood of translations of English words, the daily 
newspapers are full of bald and almost literal renderings of 
press telegrams or similar news items, and it is (or it was 
a short time ago) fashionable to embellish one's conversation 
with scraps of English. Consequently, modern Japanese 


prose, and even the talk of the educated classes, now con- 
tains not infrequent English phrases more or less effectively 
masked by literal translation, and very puzzling to the 
student in search of the pure native idiom. A curious feature 
of these borrowings is that, owing in part to the inflexible 
nature of Japanese syntax, it is chiefly through the medium 
of Sinico-Japanese that such alien forms are admitted into 
the language. 

The above summarizes, I hope, with sufficient accuracy 
the important developments of the Japanese language until 
recent times. Its future growth is a matter of conjecture, 
and therefore beyond the scope of this work. The only 
features of interest which can be spoken of as definitely new 
are perhaps the modern habit — which seems to date from 
after the war with China in 1894-5 — of forming new Chinese 
compounds without reference to Chinese practice ; and a 
strong tendency in periodicals and most books to use a style 
which approximates to the colloquial in many respects. This 
is called ' genbun itchi' , 'combination of speech and writing'. 
It is not so much a reproduction of colloquial as a simplifica- 
tion of the written language by abandoning the use of a 
number of terminations, particles, &c, and substituting for 
them colloquial forms. This development has been favoured 
by the spread of elementary education and the consequent 
growth of a great mass of popular literature in the shape of 
newspapers and magazines. There can be little doubt that 
this composite style will gradually replace for most literary 
purposes the specialized written language. 

One question which must occur to all students of Far 
Eastern languages is, what will be the future of the Chinese 
characters ? Twenty or thirty years ago it seemed possible 
that the movement in favour of their abolition would suc- 
ceed. To-day the tendency is not to abolish them, but to 
simplify and reduce them, by the disuse of redundant sym- 
bols and compounds. Complete abolition of the Chinese 
script would necessitate a complete revolution in the style 
and the content of the written language, for the written 
language has assumed its present form very largely under 
the influence of the script. It would render inaccessible to 
all but special students all previous Chinese and Japanese 
literature. It would, in the period of transition, disorganize 


many departments of public and private affairs with which 
the written character is intimately associated. It would 
remove something which has certainly contributed to the 
beauty and interest of Oriental life. On the other hand, it 
may be argued, the introduction of a simple alphabet would 
force upon the written language a clarity and a balance in 
which it is now lacking, because the ideograph in itself is so 
tersely expressive that its users are apt to rely upon the 
visual appeal of symbols rather than the aural appeal of 
words — which are, after all, the true and ultimate elements 
of writing as well as speech. Further, the time which the 
Japanese now spend in learning to read and write by their 
own complicated system could be devoted to the study of 
Western words and Western things. Whether a knowledge 
of those words and things is worth the sacrifice it is for the 
East to determine. 



THE distinguishing feature of the substantive in Japanese 
is that it is uninflected. It cannot by itself express 
number or gender. It is brought into relation with other words 
by means of particles , through a process which may be regarded 
as agglutinative ; or by means of the appropriate inflexions of 
those words ; or by mere juxtaposition. Thus, taking the 
substantive otoko, 'a man', it is brought into relation with 

(i) other nouns and verbs, by means of particles, as in 

otoko no te a man's hand 

otoko wo miru to see a man 
otoko ni yaru to give to a man 

(2) adjectives, by means of their appropriate inflexion, 

yoki otoko a good man 

(3) verbs, often by means of simple juxtaposition, 

otoko tatsu a man stands 
but, where precision demands it, by means of a particle, as in 
otoko ga meshi wo taberu the man eats rice 

It follows that the history of the substantive in Japanese 
has been not a development of significant form but merely 
a growth of vocabulary. Vocabulary is not within the scope 
of this work, but reference will be made later to the methods 
by which it has been increased, notably by the formation of 
compounds and by the importation of Chinese words. It is, 
however, appropriate to mention here that practically all 
Chinese words are imported in the form of substantives, as 
is to be expected in view of the fact that the Chinese language 
does not differentiate between parts of speech, any word being 
able as a general rule to perform any grammatical function. 
Thus f£ ai, which in Chinese can stand for either 'love', 'to 
love' or 'loving', becomes in Japanese the substantive ai. 

From this can be constructed a verb, ai-suru, 'to love', 
while in combination it can serve as an adjective, as in aishi, 
$t -? 'a beloved child'. 


There is one special characteristic of the Japanese language 
which it is convenient to describe in treating of the sub- 
stantive. Japanese, even in its modern form, seems to retain 
vestiges of a condition in which there was imperfect dif- 
ferentiation of grammatical categories. The Indo-European 
languages have formal grammatical categories corresponding 
to certain psychological categories — word-classes, such as 
nouns, corresponding to the psychological category ' thing ' ; 
verbs, corresponding to the psychological category 'action' 
or 'state'; and adjectives, corresponding to the psycho- 
logical category ' property'. In Japanese, either the psycho- 
logical category is not fully differentiated, or the correspon- 
dence between grammatical and psychological categories is 
incomplete. The substantival or noun category seems to be 
the primary one and to have been retained in some cases 
where, in other languages, new categories have developed. 
This feature is difficult to explain, precisely because of its 
psychological aspect ; but the following illustrations may 
serve to make it clear. 

i . The typical form of a simple statement comprising sub- 
ject and predicate in modern colloquial Japanese is shown in 
otoko ga tatsu = the man stands. Here functionally tatsu is 
a verb, but historically it is a substantive, and the formal 
equivalent of the sentence in English is 'standing of man'. 

2. Relations expressed in English by prepositions are 
usually conveyed in Japanese by means of substantives. 
Thus ue is a noun expressing the idea ' above '. To translate 
'above the clouds' we must say kumo no ue ni, lit. 'at the 
above of the clouds '. There is a considerable group of words 
of this nature, of which we may mention : 

mae, before as in tera no mae ni, ' before the temple ' 
nochi, after ,, jishin no nochi ni, 'after the earth- 
quake ' 
uchi, inside ,, hako no uchi ni, 'inside the box' 
shita, below ,, hashi no shita ni, 'below the bridge' 

3. A number of adverbs in Japanese are formally nouns. 
Thus ima = t\ie present, and is used as the equivalent of 
' now ', as in ima mairimasu, ' I am coming now ', where it is an 
adverb, though in ima no yo, 'the present day', it is a noun. 

Sometimes these words require the aid of a particle before 


they can function as adverbs. The word koko is historically 
a noun, ='this place'. It serves as the equivalent of the 
adverb 'here', e. g. in koko ni oru, 'he is here'. 

4. As will be seen later, both predicative and attributive 
words in Japanese have special substantival forms or sub- 
stantival uses of other forms. Yoki in yoki otoko, 'a good 
man', is an adjective ; but in ashiki wo sute yoki wo torn, 
'to reject the good and take the bad', the words ashiki and 
yoki are nouns. In tori naku, 'birds sing', naku is a verb, 
but in tori no naku wo kikazu, 'he does not hear the birds 
singing', it is a noun. What are called the stems of verbs 
and adjectives can usually stand alone, and function as 
nouns. Thus, the stem aka of the adjective akaki, 'red', in 
such a phrase as aka no momohiki, 'red drawers', is a noun, 
used attributively. It represents the idea of the quality 
' redness ' rather than of the attribute ' red ' — the concept of 
a thing is not fully differentiated from the concept of a state. 
Similarly mi, the stem of the verb miru, 'to see', is a sub- 
stantive in mi niyuku, 'to go to see', or in hanami, 'flower- 

Since, apart from the considerations mentioned above, 
the substantive in Japanese has undergone, as such, no 
marked change, there remain to be treated under this heading 
only the specialized classes of substantive, Pronouns and 


One acquainted only with modern Japanese would suppose 
that the language contained no true personal pronouns but 
only a number of periphrastic forms. In the Nara period, 
however, the following personal pronouns are found : 

1st person a, are, wa, ware W u v^o 

2nd person na, nare \\\ fw 

3rd person (? shi) \ 

These are the only exclusively personal pronouns. The fol- 
lowing are instances of their use : 

A and WA 

a ga se (K.) my lover 

a ga kau koma (N.) the colt which I keep 

wa gafutari neshi (K.) we two slept together 


It will be noticed that in the above examples the pronoun 
is associated with the possessive particle ga, and can in each 
case be regarded as a possessive pronoun. It can be found 
in association with other particles, as in 

wa wo shinuburashi (M.) she seems to love me 
wa ni yosori (M.) depending upon me 

nemo to wa ha 'mou (M.) I think I shall sleep 

But it is doubtful whether a or wa ever stood alone (i. e. 
without particle) as the subject of a verb. I have only seen 
one instance quoted, and this is doubtful. The fact is that 
the verb in Japanese is neutral as to person. Yuku as a pre- 
dicative form can be translated by 'I go', 'we go', 'you 
go', 'he goes', 'it goes', or 'they go'. The subject is not 
expressed except where necessary to prevent ambiguity, and 
this characteristic must be borne in mind when considering 
the development of the pronoun in Japanese. It naturally 
leads one to exp ect possessive forms more frequ ently than 
nominati ve. 

In what are presumably the very earliest extant specimens 
of the language, the poems in the Kojiki, and the Nihongi, 
a is found in direct association with nouns. E. g. in adzuma, 
'my wife', ago, 'my child', ase, 'my spouse', aki, 'my dear' ; 
but such forms do not persist. 

Are, unlike a, is found standing alone as a subject. Thus : 

are kaerikomu (M.) I will return 

■y • ) while, on the other hand, it is not found associated with the 
y% S particle ga. There does not appear to be any difference in 
^> meaning between a and are, and it is to be assumed that 
are is substituted for purposes of euphony only. The element 
re is possibly cognate with ra, a suffix to which in its earliest 
uses no definite meaning can be assigned (v. under Formation 
of Words, p. 295). 

Without going into details, it may be stated that wa and 
ware are equivalent to a and are respectively. Such evidence 
as is available indicates that a and are are prior forms. They 
are now obsolete, but wa survives in the modern language 
in the possessive form waga = my. Ware is in fairly common 
use, though it cannot be said to represent the personal pro- 
noun ' I '. By a curious semantic development it has come, 


with waga, to have a certain reflective value. The redupli- 
cated form wareware is freely used = 'we'. 

NA and NARE. These form a pair similar to a and are. 
Examples of their earliest use are : 

na koso ha wo ni imaseba (K.) since thou art a man (ha is 

the separative particle, wo 
= ' man ') 
nave mo are mo (M.) thou and I both 

nare narikeme ya (N.) was it thou perchance ? 

Some curious combinations of na with nouns, analogous to 
ase, ago, &c, cited above, were in use in the Nara period : 
nase = ' thou-brother ' , nabito = ' thou-person ' , nane = ' thou- 
sister', naoto = ' thou younger brother'. They seem to have 
been terms of affection, or perhaps had a certain honorific 
value. A similar compound is namuchi, presumably derived 
from na and muchi or mutsu (gentle), which gave rise to the 
form nanji (through namuji), in common use in the later 
language as a pronoun = 'thou', with a plural nanjira, 'ye'. 
There is no trace of a pronoun of the third person, unless 
shi (v. infra) may be regarded as such. 


In the Nara period we find 

ko and kore = this 

so, sore, ka,1 ., 

i j-t.i >= that 

kare,andshi f 

KO is found alone, as in ko shi yoroshi (K.), ' this indeed is 
good ' (shi here is an emphatic particle). But it is usually 
combined with the particle no, in the form kono, which sub- 
sists in the modern language as the equivalent of the demon- 
strative adjective ' this '. Thus, kono yamamichi (M.), ' this 
mountain road ', kono miki (K.), ' this wine'. A number of 
compounds are formed by the aid of ko, such as kotoshi, 
' this year ', koyoi, ' to-night ', koko, ' here ', kochi, ' hither '. 

KORE bears the same relation to ko as are to a. It has sur- 
vived in the modern language as the dem. pronoun ' this '. 

SO and SORE are parallel with ko and kore, except in minor 
details. So gives rise to the forms sono, the dem. adj. ' that ', 

3*70 L 


soko, ' there ', &c, and sore survives as the dem. pronoun. 
' that '. 

KA and KARE resemble so and sore, but seem to be some- 
what later forms. In the texts of the Nara period they do 
not appear with such frequency as the latter. The difference 
in meaning between them is best explained by stating that 
sono represents a position intermediate between kono and 
kano, kano being applied to more distant, sono to less distant 

SHI seems to have been identical in meaning with so, 
except that, unlike so, it appears at times to act as a personal 
pronoun, as in : 

shi ga mbshishiku (Res.) as he said 

tsubaki . . . shi ga hana . . . the camellia, its flowers 

shi ga ha (N.) ... its leaves 

By the end of the Nara period shi is already obsolescent. 


These are ta and tare = ' who?' nani^'what?' and itsu, 
' which ? ' Examples of their use are : 

ta ga tame ni (M.) for whose sake ? 

tare ni misemu (M.) to whom shall I show . . . ? 

nani wo ka omowamu (M.) what shall I think? 

itsue (M.) in which direction ? 

These pronouns are frequently but not necessarily used with 
the interrogative particle ka to complete the sentence, as in 
tare ni misemu ka, ' to whom shall I show it ? ' 

TA and TARE require no special comment. Tare has sur- 
vived in the modern language, usually taking the form dare. 

NANI is an interesting example of imperfect differentiation. 
In the two sentences quoted above it clearly means ' what ? ', 
but in many cases it is equivalent to ' how ? ' or ' why ? ', and 
there is good reason to believe that this na was more in the 
nature of an adverb than a pronoun, and has given rise to 
the forms nani and nado, both originally meaning ' how ' and 
both adverbs. 



ITSU should, by analogy with wa, ka, so, and na, be accom- 
panied by a form itsure. This is the case, but itsu has 
diverged from itsure in signification. Where itsu occurs 
alone (without agglutinated suffix) it refers to time only, and 
has the specialized meaning ' when ? '. Thus : 

itsu made ka (M.) until when ? 

itsu mo itsu mo (M.) always, always (= every when) 

but in such combinations as itsuku (where?), itsuchi, itsushi, 
itsue (whither ?) it refers to place, and itsure retains the 
character of a pronoun and means simply ' which '. Ex- 
amples : 

itsuku ni itaru (K.) 
itsuchi mukite (M.) 
itsue no kata ni (M.) 
itsura to towaba (M.) 
itsure no hi made (M.) 

which place does he reach ? 

facing whither ? 

in which direction ? 

if you ask whereabouts ? 

until which day ? 

It is clear that the element common to each, itsu, must 
originally have had the meaning 'which', and its develop- 
ment of the special meaning ' when ' can perhaps be accounted 
for by the specialization of nani as 'what' and itsure as 
In the later language the above forms develop as follows : 

idzure, mod. colloquial dore = which ? 
idzuku, ,, doko = w T here ? 


, dochi 

= where ? 


, dochira = whereabouts ? 


, itsu -- 

= when ? 


, nani 

= what ? 

nazo, nado , 

, naze 

= why ? 

ta, tare 

, dare, 

donata = who ? 



These are formed from the Interrogative Pronouns by the 
addition of one of the particles mo and ka. Thus, tare ka 
ga kita = ' some one has come', although tare ga kita ka = 
' who has come ? ' Dare ka ga kita ka would be ' Has any one 
come ? ' Similarly tare mo konai = ' nobody comes ', nani 
mo shiranai = 'does not know anything'. 


Such is the position with regard to pronouns in the Nara 
period. Even prior to that period we may assume almost 
with certainty there existed a fairly complete set of special- 
ized pronominal forms. They may be represented schematic- 
ally as follows : 

Pronouns at beginning of Nara Period. 

I. 2. 3. 

Personal a, are na, nare (shi) 

wa, ware 
Demonstrative ko, kore so, sore ha, kare 

Interrogative ta, tare 

itsu, itsure 

If we compare this list with a list of pronouns used in 
modern Japanese, we find a curious phenomenon. The 
demonstrative and interrogative pronouns have survived 
with very little change, the personal pronouns have almost 
completely vanished. It is interesting to trace the develop- 
ment of the language in this respect between the two periods. 
Already in the Nara period we find substitutes for simple 
personal pronouns in the shape of honorific appellations or 
humble terms, such as mimashi = thou, which is apparently 
composed of the honorific prefix mi and mashi, meaning ' to 
dwell', 'to exist' (in space), and conveys some such idea as 
'august being'. We have also imashi, and even mashi with- 
out prefix (mashi mo are mo (M.), 'thou and I') as well as 
kimi (= lord) and namuchi (v. above), all equivalent to 
'thou'. There is further a form wake, of obscure origin, 
which appears to mean both 'I' and 'thou'. 

Not infrequent examples of these forms are to be found 
in the Rescripts and the Manybshu. In subsequent periods 
the function of pronouns is performed by a double process — 
the free use of honorific or humble appellations and the 
development of an intricate system of honorific and humble 
verb forms. It is impossible in considering this phenomenon 
to distinguish between cause and effect, to say whether the 
tendency to dispense with personal pronouns resulted from 
a preference for honorific forms or whether the personal pro- 
nouns disappeared for other reasons and were perforce re- 


placed by honorific forms. The first seems the most likely 
process. There are no signs of atrophy in the personal pro- 
nouns in the earlier texts — on the contrary, they were 
developing new forms, as has been indicated above — but the 
language in use at the centre of culture, the Court at Nara, 
tended to be ceremonious and extravagant, and it was this 
language which furnished a standard, through being recorded 
in collections of Verse and magniloquent documents like the 
Imperial Rescripts. But even in the almost primitive verses 
of the Kojiki there are already instances of honorific verb 
forms, as, for instance, the use of causative forms like tatasu 
as honorific substitutes for the simple form tatsu (v. under 
su, verb suffixes, p. 165). Underlying these tendencies is 
doubtless some characteristic which might be explained on 
grounds of racial psychology. This, however, is a question 
which may be left to specialists in that distressing study. 

Whatever its causes, the development of the process out- 
lined above, through the Heian period on to the present day, 
provides interesting material, and I therefore sketch it 
briefly, as follows. 

In the Heian period a and are are practically obsolete, wa 
survives only in the possessive form waga, but ware is fre- 
quent. Meanwhile the word watakushi comes into use. Its 
original meaning is something like ' private ' (not ' selfishness ' 
as is often said), as can be seen from 

watakushi ni mo ito koso inwardly was much rejoiced 

but later it developed the meaning of 'I', and it is the 
standard form in the modern colloquial. 

Na and nare fall out of use and are replaced by nanji 
( = namuchi) and kinji (presumably = kimi muchi) as pro- 
nouns of the second person. 

In the third person we find some of the demonstrative 
pronouns, alone or in combination, acting as personal pro- 
nouns. Thus : 

so ga iikeraku (Tosa Nikki) he said 

and a number of cases where such compounds as sonata 
( - sono kata, 'that side'), soko ('there'), by a slight shift of 
meaning come to signify persons and not places, acting as 
pronouns of the second, and even of the third person. Kare 


in particular frequently stands for 'he', and this usage has 
survived until the present day in the written language. E. g. 

kare ga mosamu koto In ni report to His Majesty what 

soseyo (Yamato Mono.) he says 

kare wa tare zo (Gen.) who is he ? 

In this period we find are, a demonstrative form, not to be 
confused with are = ' I ', used in the same way as kare, as in 

are wa nani koto iu zo (Mak.) what does he say ? 

and are is still used in the modern colloquial in this sense, 
somewhat impolitely. 

The substitution of demonstrative pronouns (or com- 
pounds thereof) indicating position for personal pronouns 
proceeded apace. By the period of the Heike Monogatari 
we find 

so, sore, soko, sonata — 2nd person 

are = 2nd and 3rd person 

kare = 3rd person 

and later we find konata, 3rd person, as well as anata, 2nd 
person. This last form is the one which survives in the 
modern colloquial. 

Certain anomalies will be noticed in the employment of 
these forms. They arise from the fact that the demonstrative 
pronouns express three ideas as to position, viz. ko, this 
here, so, that there (near), and ka, that there (distant). 
Consequently ' this person here ' may be used for the speaker 
as well as for a third person who is present ; ' that person 
there' may be used for the person addressed, or for a third 
person, whether present or absent. The substitute forms 
are, in fact, vague and unsatisfactory except where there is 
a clear linguistic context, or what has been called a ' situation 
context'. Partly no doubt on this account another group 
of substitutes came into use. Those like kimi and nanji have 
already been mentioned. They are honorifics or perhaps 
terms of affection. After the Nara period they increase in 
numbers. We find such forms as wagimi (approximately = 
'my lord'), wanushi ('my master'), wabito ('my man') for 
the second person ; omae (honorific and ' front ') , gozen $$ bij 
and gohen '$$ ^| (the two latter being of Chinese origin), 
where the second person is expressed by a reference to posi- 


tion. There are also special forms representing the first 
person, such as rnaro i^, which developed an honorific sense, 
and chin, the Imperial ' we ', imported from China (g£). 

The substitution for personal pronouns of periphrastic 
forms denoting position is very characteristic of Japanese. 
It seems to arise from a kind of tabu, which discourages 
direct address or direct reference to a person, particularly 
a person in a superior rank. The most familiar example is 
the word mikado = ' august gate', for the Emperor, but 
everyday speech furnishes abundant illustration of the same 
tendency. Thus a husband refers to his wife as kanai (inside 
the house), a wife to her husband as taku (the house) ; the 
usual equivalent for 'Mr.' is dono, 'a (large) building', and 
so on. It is difficult to say to what extent this habit is 
derived from Chinese usage. Certainly in the Kojiki the 
most august and even divine personages are freely mentioned 
by name. Such elegant appellations as denka $g£ fC (lit. 
' under the pavilion ') for ' Highness ', kakka HQ ~f» (lit. ' under 
the council chamber') for 'Excellency', kiden -fl Jgj; (lit. 
'respected pavilion') for 'you', are of Chinese provenance. 
It should be noticed by the way that forms like denka can 
stand both for second and third person — His Highness as 
well as Your Highness. 

It is unnecessary to enumerate more of these forms. One 
need only state that they are exceedingly numerous, and 
many were but ephemeral. They came into fashion at one 
period and vanished at another. But the habit of using 
periphrastic substitutes for the personal pronoun has per- 
sisted, so that in modern Japanese a great number of 
equivalent forms are in use. Thus, instead of the simple 
pronouns of the early Nara period, we now have 
1st person. Watakushi, ware, temae ('before the hand', a 

humble word), boku (= 'servant', in common use), 

sessha ( = clumsy person), gojin (af- \), waga hai (lit. 

my companions, but used = 'I' as well as 'we'), and 

several others. 
2nd person. Anata, kimi, kikun, kiden, kisama, omae, 

onore, of varying degrees of politeness. 
3rd person. Are, ano hito (' that person '), kano hito, kano jo 

('that woman', in written language = 'she'), ano kata, 



It is important to remember that, in Japanese, sentences 
can easily be constructed where, owing to the existence of 
special honorific locutions, the personal pronoun can be 
omitted without ambiguity. It may indeed be stated that 
a typical Japanese sentence does not include a personal pro- 
noun, and where one is used it generally has an emphatic 
value. Thus : 

irasshaimasu ka are you going ? 
mairimasu I am going 

The use of honorific or humble verbs dispenses with the need 
for a pronoun, and if pronouns are used, as in anata irasshai- 
masu ka, the sentence is better translated in an emphatic 
way — ' Are you going ? ' 


What has been written above applies mutatis mutandis to 
the possessive pronouns. The earliest forms are those like 
aga, waga ('my'), &c, which have already been discussed. 
Where nouns are used periphrastically as personal pronouns, 
their possessive forms are naturally constructed in the 
ordinary way, by means of the possessive particles no and 
ga ; so that, for instance, for ' my hat ' we must say wata- 
kushi no bdshi, 'your hat', anata no boshi, and so on, with 
the reservation that pronouns are not used where there is no 
fear of ambiguity. Thus, though kimi wa kasa wo wasureta 
ka is literally ' Have you forgotten umbrella ? ', unless there 
is in the context evidence to the contrary the sentence means 
' Have you forgotten your umbrella ? ' To say kimi no kasa 
would be superfluous. Indeed, in most cases the unemphatic 
use of a personal pronoun or a possessive pronoun is a 
solecism in Japanese. 

Parallel with the use of honorific words as substitutes for 
personal pronouns is the use of honorific prefixes or similar 
locutions instead of possessive pronouns. To take the 
simplest and most frequent case, that of the honorific prefix 
o or on : where this is prefixed to a noun its value can 
usually be given in translation by a possessive pronoun. 
Thus o kao ga akai, 'your face is red', or, if a third person 
is being respectfully referred to, 'his face is red'. Similarly 
o taku is 'your house', o ko sama 'your children', and so on. 


For epistolary use, or in ceremonious language, a number of 
more elaborate locutions are available — mostly of Chinese 
origm. Thus, while I write of 'my wife' as gusai or keisai, 
a stupid or a rustic spouse, I refer to your wife as ' Interior 
Madam' (okusama). My father is plain 'father', yours is 
a 'stern prince' (genkun). My house is a wretched hovel, 
yours is a splendid palace. Many of these hyperbolic expres- 
sions are of course stilted and fantastic, but a number of 
them have by frequent usage lost their explicit honorific 
character, and are merely stereotyped forms with primarily 
grammatical functions. It is obvious, for instance, that 
when a commercial company in its advertisements or its 
correspondence styles itself heisha, ' a broken-down concern ', 
it does not expect to be taken literally. 

Though it has been stated that honorific forms act as 
substitutes for personal pronouns, it must not be assumed 
that honorifics and personal pronouns represent exactly the 
same psychological category. It is more accurate to say that 
the presence or absence of honorific or humble forms, in most 
contexts, allows the speaker to dispense with personal or 
possessive pronouns ; and by ' context ' here must be under- 
stood not only the verbal context but the situation context. 
Thus, o tegami, standing alone, means 'a respected letter'. 
It may, according to context, mean the letter of the person 
addressed, i. e. 'your letter', or the letter of some third per- 
son to whom respect is due, i. e. 'his letter'. It may even, 
by an extension of the application of the honorific, refer to 
a letter which I have written to you, and which, owing to 
its respectable destination, is mentioned with the respect due 
to its recipient. An extreme case of this sort is furnished 
by such a common phrase as o jama itashimashita, which is 
the equivalent of 'Pardon me for having disturbed you'. 
Literally, o jama is an 'honourable obstacle', but it is 
honourable only in so far as it affects an honourable person. 


These do not exist in Japanese. Their purpose is served 
by a special attributive form of the verb, as homuru hito, 
'a man who praises', where homuru is the attributive form 
of homu. 

3270 M 



The numerals in use before the introduction of Chinese 
were as follows : 

i hitotsu 

8 yatsu 

2 futatsu 

9 kokonotsu 

3 mitsu 

io to, and so in combinations 

4 yotsu 

20 hatachi 

5 itsutsu 

ioo momo, and &o in combinations 

6 mutsu c/w 

7 nanatsu 

10,000 yorodzu 

These are substantival forms, which appear in combination 
without the element tsu. Thus, miso = 30, iho = 500, yao 
(yaho) = 800, misoji = 30,000, mitose — three years, 3/ata = 

The intermediate numbers were formed on the model to- 
amari hitotsu, ' one more than ten ' -» eleven. 

The system was evidently cumbrous and, in the higher 
numbers, vague. The number yatsu, for instance, is appa- 
rently cognate with the word iya, which appears in the Nara 
period as an intensive prefix meaning 'very' or 'much'. Ya 
with its compounds is used to signify simply a large number. 
Thus yao yorodzu no katni, literally 'the 800,000 gods', means 
the 'multitudinous gods', and similarly u wo yatsu kadzuke 
(M.) is ' keeping many cormorants '. But numbers like 8, and 
its multiples in thousands, occur frequently in Buddhist 
literature, and the use of ya in the sense of ' many ' may be 
derived from this source. 

Naturally the Chinese numerals were found more con- 
venient, and in many cases they drove the Japanese forms 
completely out of use. There are, however, some curious 
survivals and anomalies. These cannot all be specified here, 
being matters for lexical treatment, but the following are 
typical examples. 

The native numerals from one to ten remain in use, as 
substantives. The higher numbers are obsolete, except that 
yorodzu is still used, in the sense of 'universal', 'all'. Thus 
yorodzu no hito conveys the idea 'all people', 'everybody'. 
As attributives these numerals appear in compounds such as 
futsuka, 'two days' or 'the second' (of the month) ; mikka, 


'the third', and so onT These are compounds with pure 
Japanese words and as a general rule Chinese numerals must 
be used with words of Chinese origin. Thus we have futari 
and ninin for 'two persons', miiro and sanshu for 'three 
sorts' ; while sannen, 'three years', has driven out of use the 
original Japanese form mitose. 

An instance of 'tabu' is provided by forms like yonin, 
'four persons', where we should expect shinin, since yo is 
Japanese and nin is Chinese. But shi in such connexions 
is avoided, because it is homophonous with shi, 'death'. 

A special feature of the language is the use of what are 
called ' Auxiliary Numerals ' . These correspond to such words 
as 'head', 'sail', in 'two head of cattle', 'five sail of ships', 
but the usage is much more extended in Japanese than in 
English. The auxiliary numerals are both native and Chinese. 
The following are typical illustrations of their employment. 

'otoko yottari (or yonin) four men 

-katana hito furi one sword 

z&oromo yokasane four sets of clothing 

■June shichi so seven ships 

^nimotsu san ko three pieces of baggage 

.■kami ni mai three pieces of paper 

The difference between this usage and the corresponding 
idiom in English is not only a matter of frequency. In 
Japanese there is as a rule l no alternative locution. When 
an auxiliary numeral exists its use is obligatory. Though 
we can say 'seven ships' instead of 'seven sail', we cannot 
say shichi June or nana June. 

The term Auxiliary Numeral is convenient but inaccurate. 
The words in question are in no sense numerals, nor are they 
even measures of number or quantity like the words 'pair' 
and 'pound'. Numeral Auxiliaries would be more correct, 
but ' classifiers ' is adequate. Their use can be perhaps better 

1 There are some exceptions, e. g. go yen, ' five yen ', futa ma, ' two 
rooms '. But even here yen and ma may themselves be regarded as 
standing for categories rather than things, and therefore on the same 
footing as classifiers. Thus for ' two bedrooms ' one would say shin- 
shitsufuta ma, while in accounts, &c, one often finds for, say, 'five 
yen', kin go yen, which means 'money five units of yen'. If the 
speaker wishes to refer to the coins themselves, he uses a classifier, 
as in jilyen kinkwa go mai, ' 5 gold ten-yen pieces '. 


understood if one remembers that even the earliest and 
simplest forms of numerals in Japanese contain an element 
corresponding to these specialized numerative words. Thus 
hitotsu, futatsu, &c, can be resolved into numeral plus an 
auxiliary suffix tsu = 'piece', and the idiom requires mono 
hitotsu, 'thing one piece', and not hito mono, for 'one thing'. 
Similarly onnafutari, ' woman two persons ', for ' two women ', 
and not futa onna. The suffix tsu appears also in the word 
ikutsu, 'how many'. The use of classifiers such as mat, furi, 
hon, kasane, &c, follows not unnaturally from the use of tsu. 
It is probable that the free use of such classifiers in 
Japanese developed under Chinese influence. There is little 
trace of them in the Nara period. We find, however, 

chi, doubtless cognate with tsu, as in 

misochi amari futatsu no kata- thirty-two images 
chi (Bussoku-seki) 
H, as in hitari (mod. hitori) , one person, futari, two persons 
ha, meaning days, as in futsuka, 'two days', nanuka, 

'seven days', momoka, 'a hundred days'. 
hashira, meaning 'pillar', applied to persons, but chiefly 
to gods, as in 
yohashira no kami (Rituals) four gods 

J In Chinese the classifiers serve an important purpose in 
that they help to differentiate homophones. Though shan 
in Chinese means both 'shirt' and 'mountain', the use of 
the appropriate classifier in each case, tso, ' a site ', for moun- 
tains, and kien, 'an article of clothing', for shirts, helps to 
prevent ambiguity in cases where shirts might be mistaken 
for mountains. In pure Japanese this reason for using 
classifiers does not hold good ; but since as a rule the 
numerals themselves, and a large part of the vocabulary in 
Japanese, are of Chinese origin, it is to be expected that 
Chinese usage in regard to numerals would be followed in 
a large number of cases. 


Japanese has no specialized ordinal numerals. In the 
native language there is a suffix, me (an eye, division, mark 
on a scale), used in composition with numerals, as in 

migi yori mitsu me the third from the right 


but its use is limited. A common method of describing posi- 
tion in a series is to make use of locutions containing one or 
more of the Chinese words dai Jjf£ (step, order), ban ^ 
(number) , or go §j| (mark) , as in 

dai ichi 

ichi ban 

ichi go y all meaning 'number one', or 'first'. 

dai ichi ban 

dai ichi go . 

With these, sometimes adding me, the idea of order can be 
conveyed. E. g. : 

samban me no hi the third tree 

dai san sha a third person 

dai hachi go kwan building no. 8 

dai ku rentai the ninth regiment 

Very often, however, the idea is expressed merely by juxta- 
position, as in 

mikka the third day (of the month) 

ni gwatsu juichi nichi the nth of the 2nd month 
kempd no nijiihachi jo Article 28 of the Constitution 

It must be remembered that the absence of a classifier is 
significant in such cases. Thus, if we say nijiihachi ka jo, 
using the classifier ka (-j@), the meaning is 'twenty-eight 
articles ; nigwatsu means February, but nikagetsu = 2 months; 
and the omission of ka shows that order is intended. It is 
usual, however, for the sake of precision, to use the word 
dai, as in Dai nijiihachi jo, 'Article No. 28'. 


The substantive in Japanese is neutral as to number. 
There are, however, various suffixes by means of which 
number can be expressed. These are : 

tachi, applied to nouns signifying living things. Thus : 

mikotachi omitachi momo tsu- princes, nobles, and all offi- 

kasa no hito tachi (Res.) cers of state 

imashi tachi (Res.) you 


tomo, domo. Usually of persons. (It means 'companion') : 
kodomo omohoyu (M.) I think of my children 

ashiki yatsu domo (Res.) bad fellows 

ra, applied to persons : 

otomera (M.), 'maidens' kora (M.), 'children' 

kata, gata, applied to persons. It means 'side'. It does not 
appear in the earliest texts, but is frequent in the medieval lan- 
guage, as, for example, in onnagata, ' women ', anatagata, ' you '. 

All the above forms have survived and are in common use 
to-day. In addition there is the Chinese word to &fc ' a class ', 
and its equivalent in pure Japanese, nado, which have rather 
the meaning of et cetera. It is only incidentally that to and 
nado form plurals. 

It is important to notice that, since number is not ex- 
pressed in Japanese except for special reasons, most so-called 
plural forms have special meanings. This is particularly true 
of those forms constructed by duplication, which must not 
be regarded simply as elementary plural forms. For example, 
though tokidoki means 'times', it also conveys the idea of 
'from time to time' ; kuniguni means 'various provinces', 
yamayama koete means not merely ' crossing mountains ' but 
' crossing mountain after mountain '. Similarly samazama no 
miage is 'various kinds of presents', and kokorogokoro ni 
asobi is 'playing according to their respective tastes'. The 
forms composed with the aid of the suffixes mentioned above 
often convey a meaning which is not solely concerned with 
number. An interesting example is the word kodonio, ' child ', 
which in modern Japanese has no special plural significance, 
and can take a further plural suffix, as in kodomora, kodo- 
motachi, showing that the suffix domo (= tomo) expresses the 
idea of a group or class rather than of number. In a modern 
colloquial sentence such as watakushi domo ni wa wakari- 
masenu, the pronoun stands for 'I' rather than 'we', the 
translation of watakushi domo being 'the likes of me'. The 
word tomodachi, ' friend ', seems to be another example. It 
has no plural significance, though dachi is no doubt tachi, 
usually regarded as a plural suffix. There is an obsolete 
word dochi, 'a companion', which is probably cognate with 
tachi, so that here again we seem to have a plural suffix 
denoting class rather than number. 


The fact is that the Japanese noun denotes a true uni- 
versal, like 'man' in 'man is mortal', which includes both 
'a man' and 'men'. Inconvenience rarely results from the 
lack of specialized plural forms in Japanese. There is am- 
biguity to the extent that, when translating from Japanese 
into English, it is sometimes difficult to decide whether a 
singular or a plural form is required, but this is not a fair 
test. The criterion is whether the original sentence with- 
holds essential information. 



WHAT are here classified as predicative words are those 
which, though they can perform various grammatical 
functions, have this one characteristic in common to dis- 
tinguish them from all other words in Japanese, that they 
can form the predicate of a grammatical proposition without 
the assistance of a copula. 

They are roughly divisible into two classes, those which 
predicate properties, namely, the Adjectives, and those 
which predicate acts or states, namely, the Verbs. Thus, 
in the sentence 

islii otsu stones fall 

the act or state of falling, and in the sentence 

ishi katashi stones are hard 

the property of hardness, is predicated of stones. 

It will be at once apparent that the adjective here acts in 
precisely the same way as the verb. It is in fact a special 
characteristic of the Japanese language that verb and 
adjective have many features in common. They show more 
resemblances than contrasts. They are the only inflected 
parts of speech, and by means of a scheme of inflexions each 
can fulfil uses other than predicative uses. Not only can 
the verb act as an adjective and the adjective as a verb, but 
both can act as substantive or adverb. It would indeed be 
quite in accordance with the structure of the language to 
treat the verb and adjective as one part of speech, and this 
is the method followed by many Japanese grammarians, who 
classify them together as yogen {J$ |f), meaning ' use-words ', 
or hataraki-kotoba, 'work-words'. These are peculiarly ap- 
propriate names, for they describe the words which, as might 
be expected from a class of inflected words in an otherwise 
uninflected language, serve the most important and varied 

What difference exists between verb and adjective is one 
of degree and not of kind. It lies in the fact that, while 


the verb is capable of all the uses of the adjective, it has 
certain capacities that the adjective does not fully share. It 
is therefore convenient, after describing the features which 
they have in common, to treat them separately in detail ; 
but it cannot be made too clear that this division rests on 
expediency and not on any fundamental distinction between 
the two groups as to function. 

As stated above, predicative words can assume a variety 
of forms. The inflexional process by which these forms are 
obtained may be termed the Simple Conjugation of verbs 
and adjectives. This conjugation is of an entirely different 
nature from the conjugation or declension of words in Euro- 
pean languages. In English, for instance, the forms break, 
breaks, breaking, broken, broke carry implications of tense, 
voice, and mood, to say nothing of number and person. In 
Japanese the simple conjugation in all its forms is the nota- 
tion of a simple concept, whether of an action or a property 
or a state, which is not limited or extended by any con- 
siderations of time or mode. The simple conjugation, in 
other words, does not, except incidentally, produce varia- 
tions in meaning, but only conventional variations in form, 
by means of which one concept may in speech be brought 
into relation with other concepts. The form tabu, for 
instance, is the special predicative form of the notation in 
Japanese of the concept 'eating', and the words tori tabu 
merely predicate ' eat ' of ' bird ', and are concerned with no 
other relation. Consequently they may, according to con- 
text, represent 'the bird eats', 'the bird ate', 'the bird will 
eat ', or ' the birds eat ', ' the birds ate ', or ' the birds will eat '. 
In a like way, taburu is a special attributive form. The 
termination ru does not diminish or enlarge the meaning, 
but simply gives to the word the conventional form by which 
an attributive relation is expressed. So that taburu tori may 
mean the bird or birds which eat, or ate, or will eat, and 
also the bird or birds which is, or are, or was, or were, or 
will be, eaten. Similar considerations apply to all forms of 
the simple conjugation. They do not by themselves express 
conditions of time, mood, or voice. Under all conditions the 
verb and the adjective are neutral as to person, number, and 

When precision as to other aspects is required, that is to 

3*7o N 


say, when it is desired to elaborate the simple idea expressed 
by the simple conjugation, this is done by affixing auxiliary 
words or terminations to the appropriate forms of that con- 
jugation. The scheme of compound forms thus obtained is 
described hereafter as the Compound Conjugation of verb 
and adjective. Thus, by affixing to the Conjunctive form 
of the simple conjugation of the verb yuku, ' to go ', the suffix 
ki, we can express tense, as in yukiki, 'went'. Adding to 
the Imperfect (Negative Base) form the suffix zu, we have 
yukazu expressing negation, 'does not go' ; while the suffix 
ru makes a passive form, as in miraru, 'is seen'. 


is of the model shown in the attached table. It will be seen 
that it presents slight variations in type, but all verbs (with 
only six exceptions) are regular within their type. 

The following is a general account of the nature and 
formation of the forms of the Simple Conjugation, in so far 
as its features are common to both verbs and adjectives. 
A more detailed account is given under the separate headings 
devoted to each category. 

I. The Stem. 

In verbs this is identical with the form known as the Con- 
junctive form. In adjectives it is the constant portion 
remaining when any inflexion is removed. In both cases it 
is the form which enters principally into compound words, 
and may therefore perhaps be regarded as a more elementary 
form than other forms of the simple conjugation. But as 
its functions and nomenclature are the subject of con- 
troversy, it is better to describe the verb stem and the 
adjective stem separately under their respective headings. 

II. The Predicative Form. 

This is the true verb form, used in making simple state- 
ments, without qualification, concerning the subject of a 
proposition. In 

ishi otsu stones fall 

ishi katashi stones are hard 



































►H « 


t>N *» 


^ s 

















— *. 
















H-t ^ 


1— 1 6lO 



































- 2 


<*> .^ 






































l-c a! 

w a; 


[verbial ' 






1 ~+i 

4-> O 





t— ( 

£ JJ 






% Pm 








r* '^» •<;* - ^i *^ 

4e «t *t ««e 4 




*» S^ ^ X s< 

e e « « S 

H N tOfl 


the forms otsu and katashi serve the purpose of predicating 
' falling ' and ' hardness ' respectively, and no other purpose. 
They are neutral as to tense and number, so that the transla- 
tions given are to that extent arbitrary. 

The Japanese grammarians style this the Conclusive form 
($£ it ^ — shilshikei) because of its constant position at the 
end of a sentence. The presence of a verb or adjective in 
the conclusive form may be taken to indicate the position 
of a full stop, where, as is usual in Japanese, punctuation 
is defective. Thus : 

yama takaku kawa fukashi the hills are high and the 

streams deep 

yama takashi kawa fukashi the hills are high. The 

streams are deep 

Though the Predicative form plays an important part in 
the written language, it has practically vanished from the 
colloquial and survives only in some dialects and in a few 
words like yoshi, nashi, &c. It is replaced by the attributive 
form, as in 

ishi ga katai ( = kataki) for ishi katashi 
ishi ga ochiru ( = otsuru) for ishi otsu 

This change has been accompanied by a development of the 
use of the particle ga, which is described elsewhere. Instead 
of using the predicative form, and saying simply 'children 
cry' or 'stones fall', the later idiom prefers to say 'children's 
crying', 'stones' falling' — sentences which are, strictly speak- 
ing, composed of two substantives. Similarly ishi ga katai 
is historically equivalent to ' stones' hardness ' and not ' stones 
are hard'. 

III. The Attributive or Substantival Form. 

This form, as its description intimates, can serve more 
than one purpose. 

(i) It can place a verb or an adjective in an attributive 
relation to the substantive which it precedes : 

otsuru ishi falling stones, stones which fall 
kataki ishi hard stones 


(2) It can act as a substantive itself : 

ishi no otsuru wo kiku to hear the falling of stones 

ishi no kataki wo shiru to know the hardness of 

hana no chiru wo mi . . . ko seeing the scattering of the 

no ha no otsuru wo kiki flowers, hearing the falling 
(Kokin. Preface) of the leaves 

It will be noticed that in both its uses this form is in verbs 
similar to the English present participle. The resemblance 
is, however, not complete. It is characteristic of the attri- 
butive, in common with other forms of the simple conjuga- 
tion, that it is neutral as to relations other than those which 
it is its special function to express. Just as the predicative 
form is solely predicative, so is this form solely attributive 
or substantival. It is not, for example, concerned with time 
or voice. Thus miru hito merely relates in the loosest way 
the two ideas 'see' and 'person'. It may mean 'the person 
who sees', or 'the person who is seen'. Osoroshiki hi may 
be 'the day which one fears', or 'the day when one fears'. 
The substantive otsuru may mean either the act of falling 
or the person or thing which falls, as is plain from the 
following sentences : 

ishi no otsuru wo kiku he hears the falling of stones 
kawa ni otsuru mo ari there were some who fell into the 


(3) It can, under some conditions, act as a conclusive 
form, viz. when it is preceded in a clause by certain par- 
ticles, such as zo ya, &c. The rule of syntax governing this 
usage, to which great importance is attached by formal 
Japanese grammarians, but which is not always observed in 
modern writing, is explained elsewhere (v. under zo). The 
following examples will serve to illustrate it in a general 
way : 

ishi wa kawa ni otsu ishi wa katashi 

ishi zo kawa ni otsuru ishi zo kataki 

ishi ya kawa ni otsuru ishi ya kataki 

The attributive form is called by Japanese grammarians 
rentaikei(j& fg| ^), or 'form joined to substantives', which 


corresponds closely in meaning to the term 'adjective' in 

IV. The Adverbial or Conjunctive Form. 

This form has various functions, as follows : 
(i) It serves as an adverb, modifying some other pre- 
dicative word. Thus, in 

koishiku omou to think lovingly 
uyamai mbsu to speak reverently 

an adjective and a verb respectively modify a verb. It was 
principally on account of this use that the form was styled 
Adverbial by Dr. Aston. 

(2) The adverbial use is, however, only a specialized 
application of this form, the general function of which is to 
connect or co-ordinate two or more verbs or adjectives that 
bear the same or a similar relation to another word in the 
same sentence. Thus, in 

aoku akaku shiroki kai blue, red, and white shells 

the adjectives aoku and akaku stand in the same relation to 
kai as does shiroki — an attributive relation. In 

take wa hosoku nagashi bamboo is thin and long 

hosoku, like nagashi, stands in a predicative relation to take. 
The form is, in fact, either adverbial or conjunctive as one 
chooses to regard it, or as the meanings of the words used 
dictate. Such a phrase as ano hito wa osoroshiku tsuyoshi 
can be taken to mean either that the person is terribly strong 
or that he is terrible and strong. In take wa hanahadashiku 
tsuyoshi the nature of the word hanahadashi allows of only 
one meaning, 'bamboo is exceedingly strong'. The same 
reasoning applies to verbs. Thus, isogi yuku means ' to go 
hurriedly', while yukikaeru means 'to come and go'. 

It will be seen that what all these uses have in common is 
that they connect two words. Sometimes they subordinate 
one to another, as in 

kawa hayaku nagaru the river flows fast 

midzu wa hanahadashiku the water is extremely cold, 



where we have an adverbial use ; and sometimes they merely 
co-ordinate, as in 

kawa kiyoku nagaru the river runs clear 

midzu wa kiyoku tsumetashi the water is clear and cold 
nageki kanashimu to bewail and lament, 

where each member of a pair of words has an equal value. 

Frequently the connexion is so complete that we have 
compound words, such as miwatasu, 'to look across', yaki- 
korosu, 'to burn to death'; minikushi, 'ugly', and many 
even commoner, like arimasu, which means simply 'is', and 
where ari can only in the most formal way be described as 

It would seem preferable therefore to substitute for the 
name Adverbial Form some more general description. The 
Japanese grammarians use the term renybkei (^ J$ }§£), 
meaning 'the form connecting predicative words', and this 
is rendered with sufficient accuracy by the name Conjunctive 
Form, which has the advantage that it describes a most 
characteristic use, described below under (3). 

(3) In several of the examples just quoted, such as kiyoku 
tsumetashi and nageki kanashimu, the force of the so-called 
Adverbial form is fully rendered in English by the conjunc- 
tion 'and' connecting two words. The same purpose is 
served by this form in connecting clauses or complete 
sentences. In 

midzu kiyoku kaze suzushi the water is clear and the 

breeze is cool 
hana saki tori naku flowers bloom and birds sing 

the forms kiyoku and saki take the place of a conjunction, 
and this use is so important as to justify the term Con- 
junctive Form. 

(4) This form can act as a substantive, as in 

tsuri ni yuku to go fishing 

yuki wa itasazu I did not go 

tsutsumi a parcel 

yorokobi, nageki joy, lamentation 

The above are what, according to the usual terminology, 
would be called Adverbial forms of verbs. The corresponding 


forms of adjectives also seem to act as substantives in such 
phrases as 

furuku yori from of old 

kaku no gotoshi like this 

oku no hito many people 

kono chikaku ni in this neighbourhood 

and the correspondence between verb and adjective in all 
uses of this form thus appears to be complete. But, though 
I hesitate to differ from Aston, I cannot help thinking that 
the correspondence is only superficial. In verbs there is 
nothing to distinguish the stem from the 'adverbial' form. 
Aston perceives {Grammar, 3rd ed., p. 91) a difference, 
quoting tsukai, 'a messenger', as being the stem, and tsukai, 
'a message', as being the adverbial form. Since the stem 
and the 'adverbial' form are identical, I do not see how this 
statement can be proved. How can one contend that tsuri 
in tsurizao, 'a fishing rod', is not the same form as tsuri in 
tsuri ni yuku, 'to go fishing' ? As he himself points out, the 
attributive form, kasu, acting as a substantive, may mean 
either the act of lending or the person who lends. Why 
should not the stem, which presents the significance of a word 
in its most comprehensive, because least specialized, use, be 
capable of the same range of meanings ? Surely the simplest 
explanation of these facts is that, in verbs, the adverbial 
form and the so-called 'stem' are one, while the adjective 
has a special form, distinct from the stem, which has certain 
adverbial and conjunctive uses similar to those of the verb 
stem. The development of this form in the adjective is out- 
lined elsewhere (v. Substantival forms ending in -ku, p. 147), 
and it is plain that it does not correspond to the verb stem. 

V. The Imperfect or Negative Base Form. 

In adjectives this form is identical with the conjunctive 
form which has just been described. It is used in the case 
of both adjectives and verbs in predicating an act or state of 
the subject, but only when that act or state is not determined 
or completed. In verbs it cannot stand alone, but must 
always be followed by a verbal suffix or a particle, as in 

yukaba, 'if he goes', yukazu, 'does not go', yukamu. 
'will go'. 


It will be seen that in each example the state or action is 
imperfect, being either hypothetical or negative or future. 
For this reason, and in order to contrast it with the next, 
the 'Perfect' form, it has been styled by Japanese gram- 
marians mizenkei (^c jfe %), the Imperfect, or shozenkei 
(7$ %& M)> the Future, form. Dr. Aston names it the 
Negative Base, because one of its important functions is to 
serve as a base for negative forms ; but, seeing that it is 
also a base for conditional, future, passive, and causative 
forms, and has no independent existence, it seems best to 
call it merely the Imperfect Form. 1 

It is doubtful whether the adjective can be properly said 
to possess this form. The only feature of resemblance 
between verb and adjective, in respect of the addition of 
particles to a base, is in the conditional forms, e. g. : 

katakuba if it is hard 

yukaba if he goes 

but it can be shown that this resemblance is accidental 
(v. under Conjunctive Particles, wa). What is called the 
Imperfect form in adjectives is therefore, without much 
question, only the conjunctive form in another use. Not 
much harm is done, however, by retaining the separate 
classification, and it has the merit of preserving symmetry 
in the joint treatment of verbs and adjectives, thus bringing 
out their identity of function. 

VI. The Perfect Form. 

The Perfect form in adjectives is composite, consisting of 
the conjunctive form of the adjective plus the perfect form 
of the copula, aru, as in katakere, which stands for kata- 
ku +are. The perfect form is therefore discussed in detail 
under the heading of Verbs. 

1 But see remarks on this nomenclature, p. 141. 




NOT all Japanese adjectives are inflected, nor, as will be 
seen from the account given below of the adjective stem, 
are inflected adjectives always used in their inflected forms. 
Inflected adjectives, however, form the largest and most 
characteristic group of pure Japanese adjectives, and in the 
present chapter attention is first given to inflected words and 
their uses, the classes of uninflected words being subsequently 
treated and compared with them. 


Japanese grammarians distinguish two conjugations of 
adjectives, as follows : 

The Stem ..... 
Predicative Form 
Adverbial or Conjunctive Form \ 
Imperfect Form J 

Attributive or Substantive Form 
Perfect Form .... 

It will be seen, however, that these are in reality two varieties 
of the same conjugation ; the only difference being that, 
where the stem ends in shi (or ji as in onaji), the predicative 
form is, for the sake of euphony, shortened to avoid such 
forms as ashishi. Indeed, both in medieval literature and 
in the works of Motoori, these uncontracted forms are to be 
found, and they are sanctioned in modern prose as 'per- 
missible usages' by the Department of Education. 

The 'perfect' form is evidently composite and not in- 
flexional, consisting as it does of the adverbial form plus the 
perfect are of the verb aru. It is, however, the custom to 
include it in the adjectival conjugation. 

The main features of each form of conjugation have 
already been indicated under the heading 'Predicative 
Words'. The following is a detailed account of each form 
and its uses as displayed by the Adjective in particular. 

Type I 

Type II 









I. The Adjectival Stem. 


yo- ashi- 

The stem can, in the case of the adjective, be readily dis- 
tinguished, since it is the residue left when the termination 
of any form of the conjugation is removed. In this respect, 
it is worth noting, the adjective differs from the verb, for 
in the case of the latter, though we may, for instance, say 
that yuki is the stem of the verb yuku, this is a purely 
arbitrary selection, forced on us by the fact that Japanese 
has no way of writing a sound ending with a consonant, 
like yuk-. 

The adjective stem can, within well-defined limits, act as 
an independent word ; but it will be seen that whatever its 
history it now invariably retains its character as the nota- 
tion of an attribute, and not of an independent substantival 
concept. It is therefore almost always found related to some 
substantival word or group of words. The following are 
examples of its use : 

(a) As an attributive. 

ao yama (K.) a green hill 

totoshi Koshi no kuni the far-off land of China 

sakashi me (K.) a wise woman 

The Kojiki and the Manyoshii contain numerous examples 
of this use, which seems to represent a transition stage 
between inflected and uninfected adjectives. The medieval 
romances use this form freely, in such phrases as 

arigata-namida (G.) grateful tears, tears of gratitude 
tanomoshi-hito (H.) a lover, benefactor 

onaji-kao (G.) 'same-face', i.e. usual expression, 

unconcerned look 

and many examples are current in the modern language, 
such as • 

akagane red-metal (copper) 

karuishi light-stone (pumice) 

futomomo fat-thigh (upper part of thigh) 

furusato old-village (birthplace, home) 


It can even be seen in a hybrid compound like arigata- 
meiwaku, where meiwaku is Chinese. It must not be under- 
stood that such compounds can now be formed freely. They 
require the sanction of convention. 

A number of compound verbs, which are frequently repre- 
sented in English by a simple verb, are formed on this 
model. E. g. : 

chikayoru to approach 
nagabiku to drag 

(b) As a substantive. The stem sometimes appears to 
stand alone as a noun, e. g. : 

aka the colour red 
taka quantity, amount 
ara a flaw 

but it will be found that, as a general rule, these words are 
used in an attributive relation, usually formed with the aid 
of the particle no, as in 

aka no momohiki red drawers 

where aka represents the attribute and not the abstract idea 
of 'redness'. In order to express the abstract idea it is 
necessary to add a suffix to the stem, thus : 

takasa, height ; akami, redness ; okashisa, strangeness 
Examples of this apparent substantival use are frequent in 
the poems and romances of the Heian and succeeding 
periods. E. g. : 

ayashi no tami the common people 

omoshiro no monogatari an amusing tale 

A number of compound nouns survive in which an adjective 
stem is the second element, e. g. : 

tenaga a long-armed person 

ashinaga a long-legged person 
mekura a blind man 

yosamu night chill 

toasa long shallow, i. e. a long stretch of 

shallow water at low tide 

(c) Akin to the above use is that in which the stem is 


used in exclamatory phrases, where it has the form of a noun 
but a predicative force, e. g. : 

okashi no kotoba ya (these are) strange words ! 

kuchioshi no arisama kana what a regrettable sight ! 

ara saniu ya how cold ! (it is) 

arigata ya how grateful ! (I am) 

It is curious that the literature of the Nara period does not 
appear to contain these ejaculatory forms, as one might 
expect in an early stage of language. 

In the modern everyday colloquial, ejaculations like A ita ! 
' It hurts ! ', atsu ! ' It 's hot ! , are used by speakers who 
wish to relieve rather than to express precisely their feelings. 
Thus also kowa ! 'I'm frightened ! ' A kusa ! ' What a 
smell ! ' 

(d) Sometimes, by way of emphasis, a compound adjective 
is formed by duplication of the stem, e. g. : 

hakabakashi quick, adroit 

naganagashi very long 

konohoshi wa hara kuroguro this priest is black of heart 

yoku fukabuka haji na ya and deep of greed and 

zo (HK.) shameless 

(e) As mentioned above — under (b) — the stem is used to 
form abstract nouns by the addition of certain suffixes. 

2. Predicative Form. 

The predicative form of the adjective is a peculiar feature 
of the Japanese language, for unlike the adjective in English 
it is used as a predicate without the use of a copulative 
verb. Thus : 

kokoro yoshi (K.) (his) heart is good 
na ashi (K.) (his) name is bad 

The predicative form of adjectives has almost entirely 
vanished from the spoken language, surviving only in some 
dialects and in a few expressions like nashi, yoshi, in standard 





It is found, but very rarely, acting as a noun, e. g. in 

omoshi, a weight karashi, mustard (something 

sushi, seasoned fish akashi, a light 

and a number of proper nouns, such as Takashi, Atsushi, &c. 
It occurs, consistently with its predicative use, as the 
second element of such compounds as 

nakayoshi an intimate 

honenashi a man without backbone 

The following are examples of the use of the Predicative 
form of adjectives : 

asa kaze samushi (M.) the morning breeze is cold 

waga seko wo kouru mo kuru- yearning for my mistress too 

shi (K.) is painful 

kono hbshi wa futsu no hito this priest was shorter in 

yori wa take hikuku sei chi- height and of smaller build 

isashi (G.) than ordinary people 

It must be remembered that the adjective is neutral as 
to tense. In any of the above English sentences the tense 
must depend on the context of the Japanese verb. Time 
relations in the adjective are expressed by its compound 
conjugation, usually with the auxiliary verb aru, as in samu- 
karishi, 'was cold', samukaramu, 'will be cold', &c. 

3. Attributive or Substantive Form. 



In this form the adjective corresponds closely to the 
adjective in English. The following are its uses : 

(a) Preceding a noun, it is purely attributive, as in 
yoki kokoro ; ashiki na a good heart ; a bad name 
iyashiki yado (M.) a mean dwelling 

mizu naki sora (Tosa) a waterless sky 

kashikoki chichi no oroka- the stupid son of a clever 
naru ko (G.) father 

(b) Standing alone it can act as a substantive, as in 
yoki wo torn to take the good 
ashiki wo sutsuru to reject the bad 


In such cases the substantive may express the abstract ■ 
idea (goodness) or the concrete one (good things) . Thus : 

ikusa ni mo nebutaki wa daiji in war also, sleepiness is a 

no mono zo ! (H.) dangerous thing 

on keshiki no imijiki wo mita- as they beheld the splendour 

tematsureba (H.) of his looks 

June no uchi, toki wa iru among the ships, the far 

chikaki wa uchimono nite ones shot with their bows, 

shobu su (H.) the near ones fought with 

striking weapons 

(c) After the particles zo, nan, ya, or ka (q.v.) (occurring in 
the same clause) this form replaces the predicative form. Thus : 

kokoro zo yoki "\ 

kokoro nan yoki (^instead of kokoro yoshi, 
kokoro ya yoki C ' the heart is good ' 
kokoro ka yoki J 

This usage dates from the earliest recorded language, cf. 

imo ro mo ashiki (M.) 
taguite zo yoki (N.) 
are ya kanashiki (M.) 

The composite 'perfect' form of adjectives, of the type 
yokere, does not exist in the Nara period, and after koso we 
find instead the attributive form, as in 

ono ga tsuma koso mezurashiki (M.) 
ayu koso wa shimabe mo yuki (N.) 

In some of the verses of Nara period there occur a few 
instances where the attributive form is used as a predicative 
although not preceded by one of the above particles, but they 
can perhaps be accounted for on metrical grounds. Thus : 

ame tsuchi to 
ai sakaemu to 
miya wo 
tsukae matsureba 
totoku ureshiki (M.) 

1 It would be more accurate to say the existence of an attribute. 
Thus yoki means either ' the fact that a thing is good ' or ' a good 
thing '. The abstract quality of ' goodness ' is expressed by a special 
substantive yosa. 


4. Adverbial or Conjunctive Form. 



The uses of this form are as follows : 

(a) As an adverb, modifying another predicative or attri- 
butive word, e. g. : 

yoku neru to sleep well 

hanahadashiku takaki yama an exceedingly high hill 

kono yama wa hanahadashiku this hill is exceedingly high 

(b) As already noticed, under the general description of 
this form as common to both verbs and adjectives, the 
adverbial use presents only one aspect of its function, which 
is to correlate rather than to modify. Thus, in 

futoku takumashiki uma a large, powerful horse 

futoku does not modify takumashiki ; it does not mean 
'largely powerful', but 'large and powerful'. The service 
which futoku performs is to correlate the two words futo- 
and takumashi-ki and place them in the same relation, in 
this case attributive, to the word uma. Similarly in 

mizu kiyoku nagaru the water runs clear 

mizu kiyoku tsumetashi the water is clear and cold 

kiyoku stands in the same relation to mizu as do nagaru and 
tsumetashi respectively. 

It will be noticed that the force of the termination -ku is 
rendered by the word ' and ' in English. It does the work of 
a conjunction, and on account of this characteristic function 
is more accurately described as a 'Conjunctive Form' than 
an Attributive Form. That its adverbial use is only inci- 
dental, and dependent rather on the meaning of an adjective 
than on the nature of the form, is seen in such expressions as : 

(1) kwashi wo karuku koshiraeru to make a cake light 

(2) kwashi wo karuku yaku to bake a cake lightly 

Here, according to the meaning ascribed to karuku, it 
(1) qualifies kwashi, as an adjective, or (2) modifies yaku, 


as an adverb. The distinction becomes even more apparent 
when an auxiliary verb, such as naru, suru, &c, is employed. 
Thus, in 

kaze suzushiku fuku the wind blows cool 

suzushiku may still in a formal way be regarded as adverbial, 
but in 

kaze suzushiku naru the wind becomes cool 

there is no modification of the verb, and in 

kaze hayaku suzushiku the wind quickly becomes 
naru cool 

we have the two uses side by side. 

The distinction should not be dismissed as trifling, for it 
explains many characteristic terms of speech in Japanese, in 
particular the method by which the adjective is joined to 
a copulative verb. 

For this purpose the conjunctive and no other form must 
be used, e. g. : 

samukaru (samuku-aru) is cold 

samukaran (samuku-aran) will be cold 

samukarazu (samuku-arazu) is not cold 

It is by this method that is constructed the compound con- 
jugation of the adjective, when it is desired to express the 
relations of time, &c, which are not conveyed by the simple 
adjectival forms. (For details of the Compound Conjugation 
of Adjectives, see below.) 

(c) The conjunctive form serves to relate clauses, as well 
as individual words. 1 In 

matsu aoku takashi the pines are green and tall 

it correlates two words. In 

matsu aoku suna shiroshi the pines are green and the sand 

is white 

it correlates two clauses, but there is clearly no essential 

1 In the earliest writings this rule is not always observed. Cf. 
akaki takaki totoki mikotonori (Res.), 'a clear, lofty, and precious 

3270 P 


difference between its uses in these two cases. 1 It is a rule of 
syntax in Japanese that when two or more verbs or adjec- 
tives are co-ordinated, the last only takes the appropriate 
inflexion, and those preceding it take the conjunctive form. 
Accordingly, in the above examples, and in such locutions as 

kokoro yoku okonai tadashiku his heart is good, his be- 
na takashi haviour correct, and his 

fame high 
matsu aoku, suna shiroku, mi- since the pines are green, the 
zu kiyokereba sand white, and the water 


the precise meaning of the words in the conjunctive form is 
held in suspense until we come to the word with the signi- 
ficant inflexion. It is this use which has caused the Japanese 
grammarians to give it the name 4* Jfc ^ (chushikei), which 
might be translated 'Suspensive Form' or, in order to con- 
trast it with the Conclusive Form, the ' Inconclusive Form ' 
of verbs and adjectives. 3 

(d) Sometimes, but not very frequently, and only in con- 
ventional phrases, the Conjunctive Form appears to act as 
a noun, as in 

toku e yuku to go to a far place 

furuku yori from of old 

kono chikaku ni in this neighbourhood 

The following are examples, taken from classical and cur- 
rent literature, of the various uses of the Conjunctive Form 
of the adjective. 

1 The colloquial tends to discard this use, and to substitute 
sentences on the model 

matsu mo aoshi, suna mo shiroshi 
or matsu wa aokute, suna wa shiroi. 

2 Students of Japanese poetry will recollect that this form is, most 
appropriately, a favourite one with writers of Hokku, those short 
epigrams whose chief character is that they are inconclusive. One 
example will suffice : 

uibana no yo to ya 
yome no ikameshiku . . . 

The reader can complete the sentence as his fancy dictates. 

Such a form would be found useful by those English writers who 
like to end a passage with a row of little dots. . . . 




uyauyashiku ai-shitagau koto 

sono yoshi wo kuwashiku toi- 

tamau (Uji) 

(b) and (c)— 
kono kawa no tayuru koto na- 

ku kono yama no iya taka- 

karashi (M.) 
ayashiku tbtoki omi-shirushi 

. . . ayashiku yorokobashiki 

omi-shirushi (Res.) 
hisashiku arame ya (M.) 
kiyoku suzushiki mori no kage 

usuku, koku, samazama ni 

kaki tamaeri (G.) 
naidaijin isasaka mo haba- 

karu keshiki naku, yuyu to 

ayumi-yote chumon no ro ni 

tsukiraretari (G.) 

chichi yori mo natsukashi na- 
gara kowaku, haha yori mo 
netamashikushite kowaki wa 
kun to shin no naka (G.) 


koishiku no bkaru ware wa 

5. Imperfect Form. 

to obey reverently 

he inquired closely into the 

may this river never cease 
and this mountain ever be 

a strange and venerable to- 
ken, a strange and glad 

may it be everlasting ! 

in the shade of a clean, cool 

he wrote (them) in various 
ways, some fine, some thick 

the Household Minister, with- 
out the least appearance of 
hesitation, sauntered up in 
a leisurely way and reached 
the gallery of the Central 
Gate House 

what is, while loving, more 
to be feared than a father, 
and while jealous more to 
be feared than a mother, is 
the relation between lord 
and retainer 

I, who have many yearnings 

I yo-ku 
II ashi-ku 

In the adjective, the 'imperfect' form is indistinguishable 
from the Adverbial or Conjunctive. It is, in some Japanese 
grammars, treated separately in order to bring it into line 
with the verb. Assuming an Imperfect Form to exist, its 


use is the same as that of the imperfect of the verb, in that 
it serves as a base to which a particle can be attached so as 
to express a (yet unrealized) condition. Thus : 

samukuba if it is cold 

nakuba if (they) were not 

koishikuba tazunete, &c. if you desire me, come and ask 

The existence of an Imperfect Form is denied by many 
authorities, who state that samukuba, for instance, is an 
elided form of samuku-araba, where samuku is the usual con- 
junctive form. 

Though this cannot be proved, the weight of argument 
seems to be in favour of the latter view. One need not 
assume an original form samuku-araba, however, since there 
are analogous cases of the use of the conjunctive form with 
other particles and without the intervention of aru. Thus : 

samuku mo though (it be) cold 

samuku to mo even though (it be) cold 

Retaining the term for the sake of uniformity, the fol- 
lowing may be quoted as early examples of its use : 

kashikoku tomo are yashina- although fearfully, I will 

wan (N.) foster him 

uguisu no . . . koe nakuba, were it not for the voice of 

haru kuru koto wo tare ka the warbler, who would 

shiramashi (M.) know the coming of spring 

6. The Perfect Form. 



This form is composed of the conjunctive form yoku-, 
ashiku-, plus the perfect are of the verb aru. The forms 
yok-are, ashik-are became yokere, ashikere, presumably under 
the influence of the final e sound. 

Since this form includes a verb, it is more conveniently 
treated at the same time as the same form of the verb. 

Just as in the case of the perfect, all other relations of 
time, &c, in the adjective are, as already mentioned, ex- 
pressed by means of composition with a copula, such as the 
verb aru, giving a complete scheme of forms which corre- 


spond to those of the compound conjugation of the verb 
Examples : 

ashiki hito a bad person 

ashikarishi hito a person who was bad 

ashikaran hito a person who will be bad 

ashikaranu hito a person who is not bad 

sono hito ashikareba as he is bad 

sono hito ashikaraba if he is bad 
&c. &c. 

Sound Changes in the Adjectival Conjugation 

By a gradual process of sound change, the adjective in 
the modern spoken language has assumed forms different 
from those now used in writing. 
This process can be traced in medieval literature : 
The colloquial equivalent of the model yoki is yoi, and such 
forms were already in use in the Heian period, e. g. : 

kurushii koto (G.) painful things (shiki becomes shii) 

wakai kokochi (G.) youthful feelings (kaki ,, kai) 
yoi otoko (Mura.) good men (yoki „ yoi) 

The 'adverbial' form, of the type yoku, was evidently 
often pronounced yd in the same period, as the following 
examples will show. The k was elided : 

utsukushiu (Take.) for utsukushiku 

okashiute (Ise) ,, okashiku-te 

takb (takau) (Uji) ,, takaku 

karojite (Take.) ,, karaku shite 

It is curious that, though these contracted forms persist 
in several dialects, the standard colloquial has reverted to 
the original form, with the one exception of adjectives joined 
to the verb gozaru, as in yd gozaimasu, kurushiu gozaimasu, 
which exclude entirely the forms yoku gozaimasu, &c. 

The Auxiliary Adjectives 

It might be expected from the identity of functions be- 
tween verb and adjective in Japanese that similar methods 
would be used to amplify those functions in each case. This 


is precisely what happens, and we have two classes of 
auxiliary words that serve this purpose : 

(a) auxiliary verbs which, like the verb aru assist to form 
the compound conjugation of adjectives, and 

(b) auxiliary adjectives which assist to form the compound 
conjugation of verbs. 

The auxiliary adjectives are four T in number : 









Before discussing them in detail, the following examples 
may be given, from which to form a general idea of their use : 

yukubeki hito 
yukumajiki hito 
nagaruru gotoshi 
nagaruru gotoku 
ware wa yukitashi 
mitaki koto 

he will (or shall) go 

a person who will (or must) go 

he will not go 

a person unlikely to go 

it is as if it flowed 

as if flowing 

I wish to go 

things I wish to see 

It will be seen that these auxiliaries amplify the simple 
forms of verbs, by the introduction of an element which is 
neither time nor mood exclusively, but a compound of both. 
This characteristic feature of the conjugation of verbs in 
Japanese is discussed below (under Tense Suffixes, p. 173), 
but meanwhile the above words may be examined separately, 
noticing that they differ from all other adjectives. 

BESHI 2 is an adjective conveying an idea of futurity, which 

1 The negative adjective naki (nashi, naku) might perhaps be 
included here, but it is not strictly speaking an auxiliary, since it 
can stand alone. 

2 It is noteworthy as, apart from onomatopoeics, the only pure 
Japanese word with an initial b. Syllables which in composition 
commence with b when isolated belong to the series written f\ha \£_ hi 
"J fu ^v he ;^v ho, which probably represent an original p or p+h. 
Thus, umi-be contains the syllable now written and pronounced he, 
which was no doubt originally pe or phe. 


can be variously translated by 'may', 'must', 'shall', or 
'will'. Beshi is normally suffixed to the predicative form of 
verbs ; and qualifies them exactly as they are qualified by 
other adjectives, with the sole exception that it follows and 
does not precede them. Its conjugation is entirely regular 
and complete : 

Stem. BE. The stem is not now found by itself, but there 
are, in classical literature, examples of forms bemi, bera, 
abstract nouns (formed by the addition of the suffixes -mi 
and -ra, which can be attached to the stems of most adjec- 
tives for a like purpose). E. g. : 

chiyo no dochi to zo oniou bera 
naru (Tosa) 

Saoyama no . . . motniji chi- 
rinu bemi ! yoru sae miyo to 
terasu tsukikage (M.) 

one might think they had 
been companions for a thou- 
sand years 

the red leaves on Saoyama 
are about to fall. That we 
may see them even by night 
the moon shines bright 
Here bemi and bera are nouns. 

It is said that sube, 'possibility', 'a way of doing things', 
consists of the verb suru and this root, e. g. sen sube nashi, 
'There is nothing to be done'. 

Predicative Form. BESHI. Examples : 

tsurugidachi iyoyo togubeshi 

kore bombu ni arazu dai ken- 

sei nari. Sumiyaka ni kuyo 

subeshi (HK.) 
kono koto Yukitsuna tsugeshi- 

rasezuba arawaru beshi ya 

yo wo iwazu to mo akiraka 

naru beshi 
gunjin wa reigi wo tadashiku 

subeshi (Mod.) 
shosha joko subeshi 

Attributive Form. BEKI. 
wa ga seko ga kubeki yoi nari 

now must the sword be 

this was no ordinary man, 
but a great saint. A mass 
must be said for him at once 

is it likely that this matter 
will be revealed unless Yu- 
kitsuna gives information 

it will be clear to you with- 
out my saying more 

a soldier should observe eti- 
quette strictly 

all vehicles must slow down 

it is the night for my lover 
to come 


June ni norubeki tokoro the place where they were to 

(Tosa) embark 

shisu-beki toki wa ima nari now is the time to die 
shosubeki koto a praiseworthy thing 

After a 'musubi' (one of the particles zo, ya, ka, &c.) : 
konnichi no ikusa, youchi ni to-day's battle — shall we 

ya subeki, akete ya subeki ? make it a night attack, or 

shall it be after daybreak ? 

Conjunctive and Imperfect Forms. BEKU. 

ochinubeku mietari 

mirubekuba yukite min 

dote ni noborubekarazu ( = beku 

arasou bekarazaru jijitsu 

Perfect Form. BEKERE. 

June ni norubekereba 
June ni norubekeredomo 

it looked as if it were going 
to fall 

if it is to be seen I will go 
and see it 

do not climb on to the em- 

an undeniable fact 

since they must embark 
though they must embark 

MAJI is the opposite in meaning of beshi. It expresses 
the same ideas, negatived. 1 It is fully conjugated, and like 
beshi follows the conclusive form of verbs. The following 
are examples of its use : 

Predicative Form : 

wasurayu maji (M.) 
uma ni noru maji 

Attributive Form : 

umajiki 2 mikado no kurai 

I shall not be able to forget 
he will not mount a horse 

the unattainable rank of 

1 Maji seems to be compounded of the imperfect form ma, of the 
future auxiliary mu, plus ji, the negative suffix. Ma is, it is true, 
not found alone, but the above conjecture is supported by the 
existence of MASHI, which = ma+shi (ki, shika, &c), and possibly 
it explains forms like mimaku, mimahoshiku, &c. 

The fact that the stem alone does not exist, i. e. that there are no 
forms corresponding to bera, bemi, seems to support this hypothesis. 

2 Forms like mashijiki are also found in the Nara period. 


arumajiki koto an unlikely thing ; a thing 

that must not (should not) 

yorumajiki kawa (N.) an unapproachable river 

Conjunctive Form : 

This form does not appear in the earliest texts, but is 
found in the Heian and later periods. 

hito ni katarumajiktiba misen if you will not tell any one 

I will show you 
Perfect Form : 

yukumajikereba sasowazu since he would not go, I will 

not invite him 

Theoretically a complete conjugation is formed by the com- 
position with the adverbial majiku and the verb aru, thus : 

yukumajikaru, yukimajikereba, &c. ; but in practice not 
all forms are used. 

The stem is not found in combinations analogous to bemi, 
bera, &c. 

In modern colloquial majiki becomes mai, which is used 
only as a predicative — ano hito wa yukumai, but not yuku- 
mai hito. 

TASHI conveys the idea of desire, and therefore gives a 
desiderative form to verbs to which it is attached. It is 
suffixed to the conjunctive form. Thus : 

ware mo yukitashi I also wish to go 

hitoe ni Butsudo wo shugyo though I earnestly desire to 

shitaku soraedomo practise Buddhism 

tazune kikitaki koto ari there are things which I wish 

to ask 

As in the case of beshi and maji, tashi in common with all 
ordinary adjectives forms a complete conjugation by its 
adverbial form with the verb aru. Thus yukitakaru (taku- 
aru), yukitakereba, &c. 

The stem, ta-, is found in combination with suffixes, thus : 

yukita-sa the desire to go 

yukita-garu to persist in wishing to go 

3*7° Q 


The modern colloquial form, both attributive and predica- 
tive, is -tai. It is this suffix which is commonly used in 
speech to express a wish : 

yukitai (I) wish to go 

yukitai tokoro a place (I) wish to go to 

GOTOSHI. Though gotoshi (which expresses the idea of 
similarity) in many ways resembles the auxiliary adjectives 
just described, it stands in a class by itself. It is employed 
with substantives, or with words in their substantival forms, 
and is, as a rule, related to them by means of a particle, 
no or ga. The following are characteristic examples of its 
use : 

dangwan ante no gotoshi the bullets were like rain (i. e. 

there was a hail of bullets) 
tama no gotoki ko a child like a jewel 

mitamau ga gotoku as Your Lordship observes 

Gotoshi is derived from a noun, goto, and it is presumably 
because it has not entirely lost its substantival character 
that it is ordinarily used with a particle. In fact, it may be 
regarded as illustrating a stage in the process by which an 
uninflected stem becomes an inflected adjective. The form 
goto is found in early literature, 1 e. g. : 

kami no goto (K.) like a god 

mikoto no goto (Res.) according to the Word 
hana no goto yashikushiku beautiful like a flower 
ima mo miru goto (M.) as you now see 

The conjugation is regular and complete but for the per- 
fect form, which does not exist. 

Predicative Form. GOTOSHI. 

toshitsuki wa nagaruru goto- the months and years seem 
shi to flow 

1 And in existing dialects. The sense of 'similarity' can still be 
perceived in such phrases as 

shosagoto dumb show, mimicry 

onigoto playing at demons (blindman's buff) 

mamagoto playing at housekeeping 

shobugoto a tournament, sham fight. 


gotoshi retains some of its substantial sense, and is qualified 
by nagaruru, the attributive form. 


Toshitsuki wa nagaruru ga gotoshi 

nagaruru is a substantive. The meanings are identical, and 
in the modern language the particles no and ga are generally 

na wo niireba mukashi no hito 
wo ai miru gotoshi (M.) 

tsuki michite umu ko iro 
akakushite hitoe ni oni no 
gotoshi (HK.) 

to look upon thee is like 
looking upon one of ancient 

when her time came the 
child she bore was red in 
colour, and exactly like a 

Attributive and Substantive Form. GOTOKI 

hana no chirinishi gotoki wa- 

ga bkimi (M.) 
ikatsuchi no hikari no gotoki 

kaku no gotoki baai ni (Mod.) 

my great master, who is as 
the flowers that have faded 
like the flash of lightning 

in such 

circumstances as 

Adverbial and Conjunctive Form. 
wakugo wo yashinai-hitasu like fostering an infant 
koto no gotoku (Res.) 

Compound Conjugation of Adjective 

For convenience of reference, a Table showing the Com- 
pound Conjugation of the Adjective is given herewith. 

Inflected Adjectives. 
A. Inflected. 
Stem 0- ( — ), numerous, many 

1. Pred. Okari 

2. Attrib. Okaru 

3. Conj. Okari 

4. Imp. Okara 

5. Perf. Okare 

B. Uninflected. 

SHIDZUKA, quiet 

Shidzuka nari 

„ naru 

„ nari 

„ nara 



A. Examples (Inflected). 

i. medetaki koto bkari delightful things are many 

This form is unusual, because the predicative (oshi) of the 
adjective expresses the same meanings. 

2. miru hito bkaru uchi ni among the many people who 


This form is, for similar reasons, unusual. 

because the people who saw 

were many 
the people who see will be 


3. miru hito bkarishi tame 

4. miru hito okaran 
miru hito bkarazu 

5. miru hito bkaredomo 
miru hito bkareba 

the people who see are not 

though the people who see 

are many 
as the people who see are 


The perfect in this form is rare. It is usually of the type 
bkere, yokere, &c. 


, Examples (Uninflected) . 


kono machi wa shidzuka this street is quiet 



shidzuka naru tokoro 

a quiet place 


shidzuka narishi tokoro 

a place that was quiet 


shidzuka narazu 

it is not quiet 

shidzuka naraba 

if it is quiet 


shidzuka naredomo 

though it is quiet 

shidzuka nareba 

as it is quiet 


(Uninflected, Chinese). 

HANZEN f«J B (clear) 

1. Pred. 

hanzen tari 

2. Attrib. 

hanzen taru 

3. Conj. 

hanzen tari 

4. Imp. 

hanzen tara- 

5. Perf. 

hanzen tare- 



1. shoko hanzen tari the proof is clear 

2. hanzen taru jijitsu an evident fact 

3. jijitsu hanzen tarishi the facts were clear 

4. shoko hanzen taraba if the facts are clear 

5. shoko hanzen tareba as the facts are clear 

Instead of the conjunctive form, the locutions 
to shite 
jijitsu hanzen or inamubekarazu 

ni shite 
'the facts are clear and cannot be denied' 

may be used. 

For an account of these compound conjugations from the 
point of view of the verb, v. under aru (p. 206), suru (p. 217), 
and also under to (p. 249) and ni (p. 242). 

Uninfected Adjectives 

These are of two sorts : 

(I) a small group of adjectival prefixes, which now exist 
only in conventional compounds, and appear to be 
the relics of a body of primitive adjectives belonging 
to a pre-inflexional period, e. g. 0, small, 0, great ; 

and (II) a large group of words which, though primarily 
adjectival in meaning, cannot be used in attributive 
or predicative sense without the aid of a particle or 
other suffix, e. g. shidzuka, hanayaka, kirei, &c. 

(I) The following are the principal members of the first 

group : 
0, small, occurring in many proper names and in such com- 
positions as 

o-tsukuba (M.) little Tsukuba 

o-kurashi twilight 

o-kawa a brook 

KO, small, presumably cognate with ko, a child 

koyama a small hill 

kobito a pigmy 

kodakaki tallish • 


and in many places and personal names, such as Kokura, 

0, great. This is presumably the stem of the inflected 
adjective b-ki. It is found in composition, as in 

okimi a great king 

bya a great house (landlord) 

byama a great hill 

and in many proper names, such as Oda, Ofuna, &c. 

MI, august, survives in such words as mikado, august gate, 
miya, august house (a palace or shrine), miko, august child 
(a prince) . In the earliest literature it is found as an honorific 
prefix to verbs, e. g. minemashiki (K.), augustly slept, miai- 
mashite, augustly meeting. In combination with (above) 
it has, by gradual sound changes, produced the common 
honorific prefix o, thus : 

b mi Kami great august God 

on (written oho-n) yo great august reign 

on kokoro august heart 

o kokoro your heart 

MA, true, survives in such compounds as : 

mashiro pure white 

magokoro true heart, real feelings 

masugu straight 

makoto true thing, true word, the truth 

masa ni in truth 

KI has the meanings 'live', 'raw', 'pure', as in 

kiito raw silk 

kisoba pure buckwheat 

kigusuri pure drugs 

kimusume a virgin 

SU means ' bare ', in such compounds as 

suashi bare feet 

sugao bare face (unpainted) 

suhada bare skin 

and it has an intensive force in words like subarashiki, 
splendid, subayaki, quick, sunao, gentle. 


Nil (new) may be the survival of an inflected form, but is 
now found only in composition, e. g. : 

niiname first fruits 

niimakura new pillow (the bridal bed) 

niita new field 

niimairi newcomer 

In addition to the above, there is a group of prefixes which 
appear to have lost all significance, or now retain nothing 
but a slight intensive force. It cannot, of course, be said 
whether any of these ever had an independent existence as 
adjectives. The following list does not pretend to be com- 
plete : 

SA, as in sayo, sagoromo, samayou, saneru. 

TA, as in tayasuki, tayowaki, tabashiru. 

KA, as in kaguroki, kayowaki. 

KE, as in kedakaki, kejikaki. 

HI, as in hiyowaki. 

I, as in i-tadashiki (K.) (obsolete). 

(II) Uninflected Adjectives requiring the aid of a suifix or 

These are for the most part derivative words, formed by 
adding the suffixes -ka, -ge, &c, to a stem. Thus, from the 
stem shidzu, quiet, is formed the word shidzu-ka which con- 
veys the idea of 'quietness', and is to that extent a sub- 
stantive. It cannot, however, stand alone, but must be 
brought into relation with other words by means of a 
particle. 1 Thus : 

(Attrib.) shidzuka naru tokoro a quiet place 

shidzuka na tokoro (coll.) „ ,, 

(Advbl.) shidzuka ni aruku to walk quietly 

(Pred.) kono tokoro wa shidzuka nari this place is quiet 

It will be seen at once that these forms are widely different 

1 The form naru, in shidzuka naru, is composed of the particle ni 
(q.v. p. 242) and the verb aru. Instead of a conjunctive form, locu- 
tions of the following type are used : 

kaze shidzuka ■{ nite S-nami odayaka nari + i, W1 1 

\m shite) tne waves calm 


from the inflected adjectives, for the latter can be used pre- 
dicatively without the aid of a copulative phrase like nari. 1 
It is unnecessary to describe this class of words in detail, 
but they may be classified in a general way according to 
their terminations : 

(a) Those ending in KA. These consist of uninflected 
words or stems, to which various terminations containing 
KA have been added, e. g. : 

wakayaka (stem) youthful 

oroka, orosoka (stem) foolish 

takaraka (stem) lofty 

hanayaka (uninflected word) gay, flower-like 

(b) Those ending in KE or GE. Some of these, but not 
many, can exist independently as abstract nouns, and they 
differ from the words just described to that extent ; but it 
will be found that such nouns represent the state or condi- 
tion regarded as an attribute rather than the abstract con- 
ception of a quality. Thus, from the stem iyashi, 'mean', 
is formed iyashi-ge, a noun denoting 'meanness', or rather 
' the appearance 2 of meanness ' ; but though iyashi-ge nam 
hito conveys the idea 'a mean-looking man', iyashige is not 
as a rule used to represent meanness, some other locution 
being preferred. Thus : 

osoroshige nam keshiki a fearful appearance 

1 At the same time, though they may partake formally of the 
character of nouns, I venture to think that, from both practical and 
theoretical standpoints, it is a mistake to follow Aston in classifying 
them as such. It gives a false impression of the uses even of such 
words as tsuyoge to include them in the category of abstract nouns, 
while as for forms like kiyora, hanayaka, orosoka, they can under no 
circumstances stand alone, and are most suitably regarded as stems, 
analogous to the adjective stem, which produce predicative or attri- 
butive forms by agglutination. Indeed, they are even less of the 
nature of substantives than the adjective stem proper, for though, 
for instance, taka can be a true noun, takaraka certainly cannot. 

2 Both -ge and -ka are identified with the word ki or ke, meaning 
"breath', 'spirit'. These suffixes are not found in the earliest litera- 
ture, they were frequently employed in the Middle Ages, and are 
now used sparingly, ke is used in the Heian period in the sense of 

. . . hito no ke sukoshi people looked a little 

otoritaru nari. downcast. 


osoroshisa fearfulness (the quality of being 

osoroshiki koto fearfulness (the fact of being 

osore fear 

Words like the above must be distinguished from such com- 
pounds as midzuke, 'moisture', yuge, 'vapour', kanake, 
'metallic flavour', aburake, 'greasy taste or feel', hito-ge, 
'presence of people' (hitoge naki tokoro, 'a solitary, lonely 
place ') , where ke or ge is compounded with concrete nouns 
and has its full value. 

(c) Those ending in RA, such as kiyora, 'clear', taira, 
'level', sakashira, 'cunning', wabishira, 'wretched'. 

(d) A small group of uninfected words of miscellaneous 
origin, such as 

shikiri, ' constant ' (verb stem) , shikiri ni, shikiri nari. 
midari, 'confused' (verb stem), midari ni, niidari nari. 
mare, 'rare' (noun), mare ni, mare nari. 
kurenai, 'crimson' (noun), kurenai ni, kurenai no, kure- 

nai nari. 
midori, 'green' (noun). 
arata, arata ni, 'afresh', arata naru, 'fresh'. 
iya, 'very', 'ever'. 

Chinese Words. As has been already pointed out in dis- 
cussing Substantives, Chinese words are not generally sus- 
ceptible of classification into nouns, verbs, adjectives, &c, 
but can, with or without the aid of special grammatical 
devices, be made to fulfil any grammatical function within 
limits imposed by their meaning. It follows that all Chinese 
words or compounds can (within those limits, of course) be 
used as adjectives. We have, as a result, a large class of 
adjectival phrases, formed principally with the aid of a 
copulative word such as naru. Thus, taking a number of 
Chinese compounds, such as 

anzen % jfc safety, peace 
taisetsu -fc tf] importance 
shikyii 3| ^£ urgency 

3*70 R 


these can be used as adjectives as follows : 

anzen naru katei a peaceful household 

taisetsu naru shokumu an important duty 

shikyu naru shigoto an urgent task 

oral anzen nari the road is safe 

kono shina wa taisetsu nari this article is important 

shikyu narishi tame because it was urgent 

The above examples show the predicative and attributive 
uses. The conjunctive form is obtained by using the phrase 

ni shite or nite, as shokumu taisetsu! n \ e ., ., \okotaru beka- 

\ni shite J 

razu, 'duty is important and must not be neglected'. 

There are, in addition to the use of naru, other means of 
giving these compounds an adjectival value, as for example 
by employing the particle no (shikyu no ydji, ' urgent busi- 
ness') or the copulative form -taru (santan-taru arisama, 
'a dreadful sight'), but these are more appropriately treated 
as specific uses of the particles no and to (q.v.). 

Occasionally, but not very often, a single Chinese word is 
found acting as an adjective ; e. g. hi =H 'beautiful' (ci.fukei 
hanahada bi nari, ' the scenery is extremely fine ') . 

It must be remembered, in considering the uses of the 
adjective, that both Japanese and Chinese have a great 
facility for the formation of compound words. Many of 
these, particularly in the case of Chinese compounds, repre- 
sent a synthesis of ideas which in English must be given their 
respective attributive or substantival notations. Thus, while 
both languages contain compounds of the type 

anzen-to a safety-lamp 

anzen-kamisori a safety-razor 

Japanese makes a much more extended use of this method 
of simple juxtaposition. This can be seen on reference to 
a dictionary, where will be found numerous combinations 
such as 

rikken seitai j£ ft? j$r gj| constitution-government 

= constitutional government 

kiken shiso j& $fc © *g danger-thoughts 

= dangerous thoughts 


iden byb JUL W- $H heredity-disease 

= hereditary disease 

byb sanjutsu M M M- % application-mathematics 

= applied mathematics 

requiring in English an attributive word to translate the 
first element. 

In modern Japanese the Chinese suffix teki #J is freely, 
ind often redundantly, employed to form adjectives from 
Chinese words, e. g. : 

kinb-teki ronri g§ $j #j =&• JI inductive logic 

gutai-teki seian _j|. gf| $J jfc |jj§ a concrete scheme 

kyakkan-teki kannen $£ fg #J fg £ an objective idea 

"his use is very common in Chinese, where #J (Mandarin ti) 
used freely to-day as a flexional affix, to mark the attri- 
mte, 1 but its employment in Japanese seems to be due in 
a large measure to the influence of translations of European 
books and newspapers. The almost literal translation of 
press telegrams in particular has had a deplorable effect on 
the modern written language. 

Of the same nature is the use of -jo ('on', 'above', _h) 
as a suffix in such expressions as 

seiji-jb no giron political argument 

gunji-jb no seisaku military policy 

where the force of jo is rendered by using an adjective in 
English — ' political ' , ' military ' . 

The facility for forming compounds is not so marked in 
the case of pure Japanese words, but seems to be greater 
than in English. In addition to words of the type furusato 
('old home') (referred to under the Adjectival Stem) which 
have corresponding types in English, there are certain com- 
pounds which must be rendered by a phrase or even a 
relative sentence. The most usual of these are such as 
appear in, e. g. : 

wakari-yasuki kotoba words easy-to-understand 

mbshi-nikuki koto a thing unpleasant-to-mention 

sono gi wakimaegatashi its meaning is difficult-to-discern 

sumi-yoki yado a home pleasant-to-live-in 

1 As hao-ti jen, g£ ftfj a g°°d man. 


It will be noticed that these adjectives (yasushi,nikushi,&c.) 
are similar to beshi, maji, tashi, &c, in that they are suffixed 
to the simple conjugational forms of verbs. They differ from 
them, however, in that they can be used independently of 


Methods of forming Adjectives 

i. From a stem, which may or may not first have existed as 
an independent word. 1 These form the majority of pure Japanese 
adjectives, and take the regular -shi, -ki, -ku inflexion, e. g. yo-ki, 
waru-ki, yo-shi, waru-shi, &c, iya-shi, 6-shi, maru-shi, to-shi. 

2. From stems which exist as independent words — by the addi- 
tion of -shi, -shiki, &c, e. g. : 

hitoshi, -ki, -ku 'sole', from hito 

hanahadashi, -ki, -ku 'very', from hanahada 

koishi-shi, -ki -ku 'beloved', from koi, love 

otonashi, -ki, -ku 'gentle', from otona, youthful 

3. From stems existing as separate words — by the addition of 
-rashi, where ra has the force of 'like' or '-ish'. E. g. : 

bakarashi, -ki, -ku 'foolish', from baka, a fool 

airashi, -ki, -ku 'lovable', from ai, love 

kodomorashi, -ki, -ku 'childish', from kodomo, child 

4. From uninflected words, by the addition of -keshi, thus 

sayake-shi,-ki,-ku 'fresh' 

shidzuke-shi ,-ki ,-ku 'quiet' 

haruke-shi ,-ki ,-ku 'distant' 

These words may be treated as obsolete, and for practical 
purposes may be disregarded. They are, however, interesting 
in that they throw some light on the development of adjectives 

1 This is a matter of etymology ; but it may be mentioned that, 
for instance, to (far) appears attributively, thus : 
to tsu kami "] 
to no kuni I ,yr ■> 
sumerogi no f * *' 
to no mikado J 
and in the songs of the Kojiki one finds such forms as 

totoshi Koshi no kuni the distant land of Koshi 
Here we seem to have traces of a pre-inflexional period. 


in Japanese, in particular those of the type referred to in (7) 
below. It will be noticed that these words ending in keshi are 
precisely those which, in modern Japanese, are uninfected and 
require the aid of nari. In the Nara period the suffix ge does not 
occur, but -ke is doubtless the same word (^). It thus appears 
that the process of forming adjectives by inflexion was applied 
to words like akirake and then abandoned. Cf. the following 
examples : 

Nara. Heian. 

sayake-shi sayaka nari 

akirake-shi akiraka nari 

shizuke-shi shizuka nari 

sumiyake-shi sumiyaka nari 

haruke-shi haruka nari 

5. From the stems of verbs, by adding shiki. Thus: 

isoga-shiki busy (isogu, ' to hasten ') 

osoro-shiki fearful (osoru, 'to fear') 

shitawa-shiki « beloved (shitau, ' to long for ') 

6. Sometimes Chinese roots take this termination : 

yuyushiki, bibishiki, beautiful 

7. From uninfected words or stems, by the addition of suffixes 
like ka and ge which form quasi-substantives that are made 
attributes by the use of a copulative locution. 

shidzuka, 'quiet' tsuyoge, 'strength' 

1 These words show how cautious one should be in using the word 
'stem'. There is, as far as I know, nothing to prove that osoro-, 
isoga-, shita- are not just as much stems as osore-, isogi-, shitai-. In 
fact, it is hard to see why the writers of grammars, that are not pure 
studies in etymology, keep up the practice of distinguishing an 
arbitrary stem. 




HE full conjugation of a Japanese verb can be con- 
veniently divided into two parts, which may be styled 
the Simple Conjugation and the Compound Conjugation 

The chief function of the Simple Conjugation is to provide 
variations in form by means of which the verb can be brought 
into relation with other words. These variations in form do 
not now (though some of them originally did) express by 
themselves variations in meaning as is the case with those 
changes in the form of the verb in English, like 'break', 
'broke', 'breaking', 'broken', &c, which serve to convey 
ideas of mood, tense, or voice ; nor do any of the forms of 
a Japanese verb, whether simple or compound, contain ele- 
ments representing number or person. Each form of the 
simple conjugation can serve as a base for the addition of 
suffixes to produce compound conjugational forms which 
express variations in meaning corresponding to (though not 
exactly coinciding with) the tenses, moods, &c, of an English 
verb ; but standing alone it is simply one of a series of 
forms, differentiated by flexion, by means of which the word 
in question can function as verb, noun, adjective, or adverb, 
according to requirement. Thus, for the verb 'to go' we 
have in Japanese the following forms of the Simple Con- 
jugation : 

i. yuku . . . the 'predicative' form. 

2. yuku . . . the 'attributive' form. 

3. yuki . . . the 'conjunctive' form. 

4. yuka . . . the 'imperfect' form, or 'Negative Base'. 

5. yuke . . . the 'perfect' form. 

The first, yuku, is the true verb form, as in hito yuku, ' a man 
goes'. The second, yuku, is an adjectival form, as in yuku 
hito, 'a goes-man', i. e. 'a man who goes'. It happens that 
in this case the predicative and attributive forms coincide, 


but in many verbs they differ, e. g. homu and homuru, 
respectively the predicative and attributive forms of the verb 
meaning 'to praise'. 

The third, yuki, is a noun, corresponding fairly closely to 
'going' in its gerundial uses. It is the form which enters 
most freely into combination with other words, as in michi- 
yuki, 'wayfaring', yukikaeru, 'to come and go'; and it 
has an important syntactical function as a link between 

The fourth, yuka, is never found alone, but acts only as 
a base for agglutination. 

The fifth, yuke, performs a similar office, but it can under 
certain circumstances stand alone as a predicative form. 

Historically, as will be seen, this Simple Conjugation is 
not homogeneous. The 'attributive' form, for instance, is 
in many cases a disguised compound form, and the ' perfect ' 
form was originally an independent form conveying an idea of 
tense. But for practical purposes one is justified in regarding 
the above five forms as the members of a group that provides 
the bases upon which the Compound Conjugation is built. 

The Compound Conjugation is formed in the following 
way : To each variant of the predicative form in the simple 
conjugation there can be added certain suffixes denoting 
tense, mood, voice, &c, e. g. : 

yukubeshi, ' will go ' . . . . The Attributive Form + an in- 
flected adjectival suffix 

yukitari, 'has gone ' . . . . The Conjunctive Form +an in- 
flected verb suffix 

yukazu, ' does not go ' . . . The ' Imperfect ' or Negative 

Base Form +an inflected verb 

yukeba, ' as he goes ' . . . The Perfect Form + an unin- 

yukedo, ' though he goes ' fleeted suffix (a particle) 

It will be observed that some of these agglutinated suffixes 
are inflected and some uninflected words. The inflected 
suffixes are themselves vestigial verbs or adjectives, and they 
have in their turn a simple conjugation which (precisely as 
in the case of yuku, yuki, yuka, yuke) allows the compound 
form to function as verb, noun, adjective, and so on, and 
furnishes bases for the addition of still further suffixes. Thus, 


to take a simple example, the inflected verb suffix tart, which 
indicates approximately a perfect tense, has a simple con- 
jugation : 

tari .... Predicative 

taru .... Attributive 

tari .... Conjunctive 

tar a . . . . ' Imperfect ' or Negative Base 

tare .... Perfect 
so that the compound conjugational form yukitari, which 
for the moment we may describe as the perfect tense of the 
verb yuku, has the forms 

yukitari .... Predicative 

yukitaru .... Attributive 

yukitari .... Conjunctive 

yukitara . . . . ' Imperfect ' or Negative Base 

yukitare .... Perfect 

These forms are used in exactly the same way as the simple 
conjugational forms oiyuku, described above. Thus yukitari 
is the true verb, as in hito yukitari, ' a man has gone ' ; yuki- 
taru is an adjective, as in yukitaru hito, 'a man who has 
gone ' ; while to the appropriate forms can be added further 
suffixes, inflected or uninflected, to provide further variations 
in meaning, such as 

yukitarubeshi .... will have gone 

yukitariki did go 

yukitarazu has not gone 

yukitaredo though he has gone 

It is the conjugational forms created by the addition of 
suffixes to the forms of the simple conjugation which are 
hereafter described as constituting the Compound Conjuga- 
tion of the Japanese verb. 

There are four regular types of the Simple Conjugation of 
the verb, and a few irregular verbs. It is usual to distinguish 
these types by reference to the columns of a conventional 
table of the Japanese syllabary. This table is as follows : 





A verb of the First Conjugation, such as yuku, has four 
forms which, taken in the order of the terminal vowels in 
the horizontal rows ('grades') of the table, are yuKA , yuKI , 
yuKU, yuKE. In Japanese grammars and dictionaries the 
verb yuku is therefore described as belonging to the Ka 
column of the ' quadrigrade ' conjugation, since its variations 
correspond to the four syllables in the vertical column headed 
by Ka. It has a form in each of the four ' grades '. Similarly 
the verb kasu, which has the forms kasa, kashi, kasu, kase, 
is described as of the Sa column of the quadrigrade con- 

The verb tabu, 'to eat', is of the Second Conjugation. It 
has the forms tabu, taburu, tabe, tabure. Here the syllables 
ru and re are agglutinated, and the only flexional variations 
are tabu and tabe. This is described as the ' Lower Bigrade ' 
conjugation, since bu and be are the two lower grades of the 
Ba column (Ba being the surd form of Ha). 

The verb otsu, 'to fall', is of the Third Conjugation, and 
has the forms otsu, otsuru, ochi, otsure. The flexional varia- 
tions are otsu, ochi, which correspond to the two middle 
grades (i. e. 2 and 3) of the table, in column Ta. Otsu is 
therefore of the 'Middle Bigrade' Conjugation. 

Finally, the verb miru is said to belong to the 'Unigrade 
Conjugation', the members of which undergo no flexional 
change, but retain the same syllable in all forms, as miru, 
miru, mi, mi, mire. Only half a dozen verbs are of this 

The terms 'unigrade', 'bigrade', &c, are translations of 
the Japanese ichidan, nidan, &c. Japanese grammars for 
the use of Europeans usually distinguish the types of con- 
jugation by numbers. The irregular verbs cannot be referred 
to any of the columns. Chief among them are the auxiliaries 
aru, 'to be', and suru, 'to do', and the verb kuru, 'to come'. 

The following is an account of each of the Simple Con- 
jugational Forms as exhibited by the verb : 

I. The Stem. 

In verbs the 'stem' and the Conjunctive or 'Adverbial' 
form are identical. Aston draws a distinction between the 
two which is difficult to follow, and it seems sufficient to 
point out the identity in appearance here, and to describe 

3270 s 

















the functions of both under the Adverbial or, as I think it 
is more correctly named, the Conjunctive Form. 

II. The Predicative Form. 

This is the true verb form, 
used in principal sentences to 
predicate an action, property, or 
state of the subject, as in ishi 
otsu, 'stones fall'. Its normal 
position is at the end of a sen- 
tence, irrespective of changes in 
the order of other elements. 
Thus : 

kare wa tabitabi Osaka e yuku he often goes to Osaka 
Osaka e wa tabitabi yuku to Osaka he often goes 

It is for this reason styled in Japanese the Conclusive Form 
(shushikei %£ jfc j&). It will be found that, with one excep- 
tion, a full stop can be used and a new sentence commenced 
after a verb in this form, when translating into English. 

The exception is the case where the 'conclusive' form is 
followed by the particle to. The sentence then becomes a 
subordinate one, though in Japanese it is logically enough 
regarded as a direct narration. Thus : kawa ni otsu to iu, 
'He says that they fall into the river', homu to mo hokoraji, 
'though they praise me I will not boast'. 

Interjections can of course follow the conclusive form, and 
strictly speaking it should be used with the interrogative 
particles (ka and ya) . 

Unlike the other forms of the simple conjugation, the 
Predicative cannot serve as a base for the construction of 
compound conjugational forms by the addition of suffixes, 
unless we except the particle to, as used in the sentence just 
cited, to form a sort of concessive. 

The distinction between the predicative and attributive 
forms has, but for a few fossilized phrases, vanished from 
the modern spoken language, and one form serves both pre- 
dicative and attributive uses. Thus we have in colloquial 
ochiru, 'to fall', which is a variant of otsuru, and is used 
instead of the two written forms otsu and otsuru ; and shinu 
instead of the two forms shinu and shinuru — a case where 


the attributive form has fallen out of use in the spoken 
language. Further, in the modern written language the 
strict rules prescribing the use of the predicative form are 
in many cases no longer observed. Examples of this relaxa- 
tion are : 

(1) Where an interrogative particle ends a sentence, and 

the verb should take the predicative form, the attri- 
butive form is now permissible. E. g. Chichi ni 
nitaru ya, ' Is he like his father ? — where niton is 
required by the strict rule. 

(2) Before the particle to, where, as mentioned above, the 

predicative is demanded, custom now sanctions the 
use of the attributive. E. g. : 

ika ni hihyo seraruru tomo however much I may be 

(for seraru) criticized 

tsuki idzuru to miyu it appears that the moon is 

(for idzu) coming out 

Generally speaking there is a tendency to substitute the 
attributive for the predicative form, and one may hazard 
a guess that in time the distinction between the two will 

Chamberlain styled this form the Certain Present, but 
I venture to think that the name is misleading. The func- 
tion of the predicative form is to predicate, without reference 
to time. It is true that, being neutral as to time, it can 
usually be translated by a present tense in English ; but 
context may demand other tenses. Thus : 

gogo rokuji ni kaikanshiki owaru 

may mean either of 

At six p.m. the opening ceremony ends 
,, ,, ended 

,, ,, will end 

Similarly in narrative prose one finds such sentences as 

hatachi no toki ni byoshi su 

which means 'He died of sickness at the age of twenty'. 
To call this an historical present is only to shelve the 
difficulty by means of terminology. 


In common with other forms of the verb, the Predicative 
is neutral as to person. This is clear from the fact that it 
undergoes no variation to express person, yuku, for instance, 
standing indifferently for 'I go', 'you go', 'he goes', &c. 
In the same way the verb in all its forms is neutral as to 

This characteristic is exhibited in a most interesting way 
in such common constructions as 

kono mura wa Kose to iu this village is called Kose 

The idea of person or agent is neither expressed nor implicit 
in the verb iu. In English the corresponding locution 
requires the passive voice, which is a grammatical device 
used when we wish to describe an act without reference to 
the agent. In Japanese an active verb is used, because the 
use of an active verb does not involve mention of the subject. 

In a few exceptional cases the predicative form is found 
acting as a noun, e.g. hotaru, 'a firefly', kagerou, 'the 
ephemera', shidzuku, 'a drop', sumau, 'wrestling', and such 
proper names as Tadasu, Masaru, Kaoru, Hagemu, &c. 

Occasionally it will be found reduplicated, acting as an 
adverb, in such forms as kaesugaesu, 'repeatedly', nakunaku, 
'tearfully', masumasu, 'increasingly'. 

The following are examples of characteristic use of the 
predicative form, taken from early texts : 

(i) iya yase ni yasu (M.) grows ever thinner and thinner 

where yasu is the equivalent of the modern verb yaseru 
(i. e. the attributive form yasuru with a slight vowel 
change), and yase is the 'conjunctive' form of the verb 

(2) morotomo ni iku tomo though we live or die to- 

shinu tomo (Uji) gether 

Iku in modern colloquial would be ikiru, corresponding 
to the attributive ikuru. On the other hand shinu is 
a predicative form which has survived, and ousted the 
attributive form shinuru. 

(3) kono kane hyaku ryb wo this sum of a hundred ryo I 

ba nanji ni atau (HK.) give to you 
The modern colloquial form is atauru or ataeru, i. e. the 
attributive of atau. 

















(4) yo ni irite ike no naka after dark he crept out of 
yori hai-idete hau-hau the pond and crawled back 
Miyako e kaerinikeri to the City 

Here we have a duplicated form, hauhau, used as an 

adverb — 'went back crawlingly'. 

III. The Attributive or Substantival Form. 

It will be noticed that in the 
ist (' quadrigrade ') and 4th 
('unigrade') conjugations the 
attributive and predicative 
forms are identical. 

The chief function of this 
form is to place a verb in an 
attributive relation to a sub- 
stantive. In common with all 
attributive forms in Japanese it 
takes a position immediately 
preceding the substantive or 
substantival group which it qualifies. Thus : 

yuku hito a goes person, i. e. a person who goes 
naku ko a cries child, i. e. a child which cries 

As has been already mentioned, the function is only to 
establish the relation, and not to define it exactly. The 
definition of the relation is, where necessary, accomplished 
by other methods. Thus utsu hito merely relates the idea 
'strike' to the idea 'person', and does not formulate the 
relation precisely ; so that, according to context, utsu hito 
may mean either 'a person who strikes' or 'a person who 
is struck'. 

Japanese has no relative pronouns. In their absence the 
attributive form of the verb serves a very important purpose. 
What are called in English relative clauses are formed in 
Japanese by its agency. E.g.: 

Chosen ni yuku hito persons who go to Korea 

midzu ni oborete shinuru persons who die by drowning 


These sentences provide straightforward illustrations of its 
use. The following examples show that it merely establishes 
the relation and does not define it : 


(i) Shbgun no hikiiru heisotsu. Here the verb hikiiru, 'to 
lead', qualifies heisotsu, 'soldiers'. But the phrase does 
not mean 'the general's leading soldiers'. The word 
hikiiru merely relates the idea 'lead' to the idea 
'soldiers', without introducing any idea of time or 
agency. The meaning here is ' the soldiers led by the 

(2) koshi ni oburu katana, 'A sword worn in the belt'. 

Here oburu, being an attributive form, relates the idea 
'wear' to the idea 'sword', but makes no reference to 
the agent. As mentioned above, in describing the pre- 
dicative form, the English rendering in such cases often 
requires a passive construction. 

(3) kimi ga keru mari the ball which you kick 

(4) bakemono no arawaruru the grove in which the ghost 

mori appears 

(5) ware no yuku tokoro the place to which I go 

(6) kare no kore wo shuchd the reasons for which he as- 

suru riyu serts this 

Notice the variety in translation — 'which', 'in which', 'to 
which ', and ' for which '. It will be seen that the substantive 
to which the verb is attributed is not necessarily either its 
object or its subject. 

As an epithet the Attributive Form exists in a few con- 
ventional compounds, such as yukue, 'destination', Naru- 
kami, 'the Sounding God', tsurube, 'well-rope', &c. ; but it 
is the Conjunctive Form which enters into most compound 

The attributive can also act as a substantive in such 
expressions as : 

umaruru wa ureshiku shinuru birth is a joyful, death a sad 
wa kanashiki koto nari thing 

Here the attributive corresponds to our infinitive, 'to die', 
'to be born'. Where, as in Japanese, the verb is neutral 
as to person and number, there is obviously no need for 
a specialized infinitive form. An extension of the above 
usage enables one to form locutions like : 

hito no kuru wo matsu awaits a person's coming 


daikoku wo osamuru wa sho- governing a great state is 

sen wo niru ga gotoshi like boiling small fish 

warau wa onna ni shite naku it is the women who laugh 

wa onna nari and the men who weep 

This use can be conveniently explained by supplying either 
koto ('thing', abstract) or mono ('thing' or 'person') after 
the verb in the attributive form and regarding it as having 
its usual attributive sense. Thus, hito no kuru koto wo matsu 
or warau mono wa onna ni shite, and so on. But it must 
not be supposed that this is an accurate reproduction of the 
sense-development in such cases. The verb acting as a noun 
is to be found in the earliest texts. It is worth mentioning 
here, however, that the colloquial equivalent of this idiom 
exacts the use of the particle no, as follows : 

warau no wa onna nari instead of warau wa onna nari 
hito no kuru no wo matsu ,, hito no kuru wo matsu 

Some Japanese grammarians suggest that no here is a sub- 
stitute for mono, but I think it more probable that it is the 
particle no in a difficult but comprehensible development of 
its ordinary sense. 

A further use of the attributive form, regarded as im- 
portant by strict grammarians of the school of Mabuchi and 
Motoori, is to replace the 'conclusive' form in sentences 
where it is preceded by one of the particles zo, nan, ka, or 
ya. Thus, tsuki wo nagamu, 'gazes on the moon', but tsuki 
wo zo nagamuru, where zo is merely an emphatic particle ; 
hana otsu, 'flowers fall', but hana ya otsuru, 'do flowers 
fall ? ' This variation is found, but not uniformly, in the 
earliest texts. It is referred to under the headings devoted 
to the various particles, but examples may be given here 
for convenience : 

(1) After the emphatic particles ZO and NAMO {=NAMU 

or NAN) : 

ware nomi zo kimi ni wa kou- it is I alone who yearn for 

ru (M.) thee 

tsukaematsuru koto ni yorite it is because of Our service 

namo . . . amatsuhitsugi wa that We have succeeded to 

kikoshimeshikuru (Res.) the Heavenly Throne 


(2) After the interrogative particles YA and KA : 
hitori ya haruhi kurasamu shall I pass the days of 

(M.) Spring alone ? 

tare shi no yakko ka waga what fellows have thus re- 

mikado ni somukite shika belled against our throne ? 

suru (Res.) 

I do not know of any satisfactory explanation why, after 
these particles, the substantival form should be preferred to 
the predicative. It is curious to note that where ka and ya 
are final particles ka follows the substantival, ya the pre- 
dicative form. Thus : 

nami wa yorikeru ka (M.) have the waves come up ? 
ante ni furiki ya (M.) did it rain ? 

The tendency of the substantival form to oust the pre- 
dicative is, however, very marked in Japanese. It is of 
course most apparent in cases where the particle ga ( = of) 
is used. Thus hito ga ochiru, though it stands in strict 
grammatical analysis for 'a person's falling', has in speech 
invariably and in writing usually the meaning 'a person 
falls', and has replaced the simple locution composed of 
subject + predicate, hito otsu. To quote Aston : ' It is as if 
we gave up the use of the indicative mood and used parti- 
ciples instead, saying, for instance, "he dying" or "his 
dying" instead of "he dies", or "his being killed" instead 
of "he was killed".' 

The following are early examples of the various uses of 
the Attributive or Substantival Form : 

iru mato (M.) the target which is shot at 

tabiyuku ware (M.) I who am journeying 

hito no mitogamuru wo shi- not knowing that others 

razu (Res.) blamed them 

otsuru momiji no kazu wo behold the numbers of the 

miyo (Kokin.) falling autumn leaves 

nami yosekakuru migiwa (HK .) the water's edge to which the 

waves come beating 

hito wo tasukuru wa junjb no It is a natural custom to help 

narai nari others 











IV. The Conjunctive or Adverbial Form. 

This is the form used, as its 
name indicates, when it is de- 
sired to bring the idea expressed 
by the verb into the closest pos- 
sible association with the idea 
expressed by another word. 
Consequently its most special- 
ized use is in the formation of 
compound words. Thus, in such 
combinations as 

kimono ' wear-things ' = clothes 

tabemono ' eat-things ' = food 

minikushi 'see-unpleasant' =ugly 

ochiiru ' fall-enter ' = fall in 

the conjunctive forms tabe, ki, mi, and ochi act in the same 
way as the adjective stem in such words as akagane, 'red 
metal' (copper), and chikayoru, 'to come near', 'approach'. 
I do not see what practical or theoretical purpose is served 
by distinguishing a verb stem and a conjunctive form, as 
was done by Aston (Written Language, 3rd ed.). To state, 
for instance, that machi is the stem of a verb which has also 
the forms matsu, mata, and mate is to assume that machi is 
a prior form which has given rise to the others. There is 
no warrant for this assumption. All we can say is that the 
phonetic element mat is common to all forms, and if we are 
to recognize such entities as stems, mat is probably the stem 
of this verb. In meaning, the distinction between Stem and 
Conjunctive Form cannot be upheld. Other forms of the 
simple conjugation are equally 'stems' or 'bases' to which 
further syllables can be affixed to express variations or 
extensions of meaning. 

The conjunctive form of verbs can act as a noun, either 
alone or in composition, e. g. : 










early rising 



miserable end 
(lit. 'dog-dying') 



There is a difference in meaning between the conjunctive 
forms of verbs thus used as nouns and the true ' substantival ' 
form. The word yorokobi, for example, means 'rejoicing' or 
'joy'. It stands for a comprehensive or abstract idea, while 
yorokobu pictures rather the act of rejoicing, or even some- 
times the agent. The distinction is best shown by examples : 

sono yorokobi kagiri nashi their joy knew no bounds 

kakaru toki ni yorokobu wa at such a time to rejoice is 

tsune no narai nari the usual custom 

yorokobu wa otoko ni shite it is the men who rejoice and 

nageku wa onna nari the women who lament 

Besides entering into composition with other words, the 
conjunctive form can be used to co-ordinate words without 
closely connecting them. The difference is dependent rather 
on the meaning of the words employed than on any change 
of function. Thus yukikaeru is 'to come and go', while 
kaeriyuku is 'to go back' ; but the distinction obviously 
arises from the nature of the words used. It is perhaps 
clearer in such phrases as nagekikanashimu, 'to bewail and 
lament', where the two parts are of equal value, and the 
form nageki is used merely for purposes of co-ordination, 
since Japanese has no conjunction corresponding closely to 
'and'. Early examples of this use are to be seen in : 

machikanetsu (M.) is unable to wait 

futari narabi-i-kataraishi (M.) the two were in converse to- 

(Here both narabi and i are conjunctive forms of verbs.) 

kono yamamichi wa yukiashi- this mountain road was bad 
karikeri (M.) to travel 

and such combinations as izanai-hikiiru, 'to invite and 
lead' ='to seduce', oshiemichibiku, 'to teach and guide' = 
'to instruct', are very frequent in the Rescripts. The ten- 
dency to form such groups was no doubt strengthened by 
the influence of Chinese. It is, for instance, most likely that 
oshiemichibiku is a translation of the Chinese ^ Wl- It is 
an extension of this co-ordinating use which exhibits the 
conjunctive form in its most characteristic function, namely, 


the co-ordination not of single words but of clauses and 
sentences, as in 

hana saki tori naku flowers bloom and birds sing 

It is important to notice that saki here does not mean 
'blooming' or 'having bloomed'. Its tense is held in sus- 
pense until we reach the final verb naku, by which it is 
determined. Therefore 

hana saki tori nakamu flowers will bloom and birds 

will sing 
hana saki tori nakeba since flowers are blooming 

and birds are singing 
hana saki tori naku nobe a moor where flowers bloom 

and birds sing 

Such constructions are of fundamental importance in 
Japanese syntax, and it is impossible to understand the 
written language until they are thoroughly mastered. They 
are to be found in the earliest texts : 

akagoma ni kura uchioki hai- saddling and bestriding his 

norite (M.) chestnut colt 

oto ni kiki me ni wa mizu (M.) he hears the sound (but) does 

not see 

osu kuni ame no shita wo according as he deigns to 

megumitamai osametamau cherish and deigns to rule 

ma ni (Res.) the Kingdom under Heaven 

In the spoken language this 'suspensive' use of the con- 
junctive form is generally reinforced by means of a particle 
or replaced by some other construction. Thus, hana ga saite 
tori ga naku, hana mo sakeba tori mo naku, or hana mo saku 
shi tori mo naku. These, with slight differences of emphasis, 
are equivalent to hana saki tori naku. 

A use of the conjunctive form which is of some interest 
is illustrated in 

mai suru (K.) to dance 

imo ni awazu shini semu (M.) I shall die without meeting 

my lover 

Here we have the forms shini and mai acting as nouns and 

' Imperfect ' 

Form or 


Negative Base 














combined with the auxiliary verb sum, 1 'to do'. In the 
modern language hossuru ( = hori suru), 'to desire', is a sur- 
vival of this type, which may be regarded as the ancestor 
of verbs formed by the addition of suru to Chinese words, 
such as ybsuru, 'to require', from yd, Jg. See also under 
Auxiliary Verbs, suru. 

V. The 'Imperfect' or Negative Base Form. 

This form never occurs as 
an independent word. It was 
named by Aston the Negative 
Base, but since it is the base 
for future and conditional, as 
well as negative forms, it 
would seem best, subject to 
the remarks below, to follow 
the practice of native gram- 
marians and style it the 
Imperfect Form (mizenkei, 
%> $& M) > because ' it is used 
for events which have not yet taken place', 
contrasted with the Perfect form, since we have 

yukamu will go 
yukazu does not go 

yukaba if he goes 

where in each case the action described is incomplete, while 
the Perfect form, as will be seen, always describes a com- 
pleted act. Further, the form is 'imperfect' in the sense 
that it cannot stand alone without suffix. 

No light is thrown on its development by early texts. In 
them, as always subsequently, it appears only as a base for 
the compound conjugational forms just mentioned. It is 
also the base for passive and causative verbs, e. g. : 

homaruru, 'to be praised' =homa +ruru, from homu, 'to 

1 These forms should be distinguished from those like fukiseba in 
haze itaku fukiseba (M.), 'as the wind blew hard', which is composed 
of fuki+se, the tense suffix shi in its 'imperfect' or 'negative base' 
form. The form ariseba, which occurs frequently in early texts, is 
of similar composition. 

It is thus 


taberaruru, ' to be eaten ' = tabe-\-raruru, from taburu, ' to 

tabesasuru, 'to cause to eat' = tabe +sasuru, from taburu, 
'to eat'. 

yukasuru, 'to cause to go' =yuka +suru, from yuku, 'to 
It will be noted that, where the base form does not end in 
a, the suffixes added to make causative or passive forms 
contain that vowel. It is tolerably certain that passive verbs 
are built up by adding to a form of the simple conjugation 
(probably the conjunctive) the auxiliaries aru ('to be') and 
uru ('to get'), the verb yukaruru, for instance, being yuki + 
aru +uru, which by crasis becomes yukaruru (attributive) 
and yukaru (predicative). This is sufficient to account for 
the a in passive verbs, and perhaps, by analogy, in causative 
verbs ; but it does not explain the a terminating the base 
of negative and future forms in the first conjugation, such 
as yukamu and yukazu. The rule for obtaining passive forms 
is to add ru to the negative base where it ends in a, and raru 
where it ends in another vowel. This gives the predicative 
of the passive, while the addition of ruru or raruru gives the 
corresponding attributive forms. But this is only an empiric 
rule, and there is nothing to show that, historically, passive 
forms are built up from the negative base. 

It is important to note that the Negative Base is the only 
form of the verb which cannot stand alone. This seems to 
be a good reason for styling it the ' Imperfect ' form, and so 
following the usual Japanese nomenclature ; but it has been 
pointed out to me that this name might cause confusion 
with the Imperfect tense in other languages, and I have 
therefore, somewhat reluctantly, retained the term Negative 

It should be understood that none of the other forms of 
the verb is a base in the same sense. It is true that suffixes 
can be added to the attributive, conjunctive, and perfect 
forms — even in a limited way to the predicative form — and 
they are to that extent bases ; but they have also an indi- 
vidual significance, which they express standing alone, 
whereas the Negative Base by itself has no meaning and no 



VI. The Perfect Form. 

The Perfect Form, unlike the Ne- 
gative Base, appears to have a cer- 
tain tense-significance and not to be 
merely a flexional form providing a 
base for agglutination. In the earli- 
est texts it is found standing alone 
where one might expect the conclu- 
sive, i. e. the ordinary predicative 
form. Thus : 
















nara no wag'ie wo wasurete 

omoe ya (M.) 
iwarenu mono ni areya (Res.) 

ware wasurure ya (M.) 

have I forgotten my home 

at Nara ? 
are they things not to be 

spoken ? 
have I forgotten ? 

All the above are rhetorical questions, but it will be noticed 
that the verb tends to express the idea of a completed act 
or state, corresponding in some ways to a perfect tense. 

It frequently occurs alone where, in the later language, 
we should find a compound form denoting a realized con- 
dition, e. g. : 

hotoke no . . . sakiwaetamau having thought that the 
mono ni ari to omoe <£ |g Buddha was a thing be- 
orogami t'atematsuru (Res.) stowing blessedness, we 

worship it 

Here omoe means 'because we think' or 'since we have 
thought' — an idea which would subsequently have been 
expressed by omoeba, which consists of the same perfect 
form, omoe, + a conjunctive particle. 

It is not possible to say whether the perfect is an inde- 
pendent form of the simple conjugation, or whether it is a 
contracted compound form. Aston takes the latter view, and 
considers that, for instance, yuke is derived from yuki +aru, 
which becomes (by a crasis which is common in Japanese) 
yukeru, and then drops the final ru. He bases this deriva- 
tion on the existing modern perfect tense forms, like yukeru, 
which is undoubtedly composed of yuki +aru, and means 
'has gone', or rather 'is gone'. It is true, also, that in all 


but first conjugation verbs the perfect ends in re, which 
seems to indicate the presence of the verb aru. This still 
leaves us with the difficulty of accounting for the perfect 
form, are, of the verb aru itself. 

It is perhaps significant that the Luchuan conjugation 
does not include a perfect form. The Luchuan conjugation 
shows correspondences with the archaic Japanese conjuga- 
tion, but it is richer in forms. It is therefore not unreason- 
able to suppose that, if the perfect form had existed in the 
language from which both archaic Japanese and Luchuan 
are descended, it would have left some traces in Luchuan. 
One may infer that the perfect form came into use in 
Japanese just before the Nara period, and was never estab- 
lished in Luchuan. This view is supported by the fact that 
the use of the perfect form after koso (v. under Particles) 
does not appear to be fully established in the earliest 
Japanese texts. Koso is in them sometimes found governing 
an attributive, in the same way as the similar particle zo, 
particularly with adjectives. E. g. : 

kusa koso shigeki (M.) the grass is luxuriant 

tsuma koso medzurashiki (M.) the spouse is lovely 

It seems therefore that Aston's view is probably correct, and 
the perfect may be regarded as a composite tense form, and 
not part of the simple conjugation formed by flexion. 

Whatever its origin, the perfect form certainly conveys 
the idea of the definite completion of the act or state 
described by the verb, and in this respect it is strongly 
differentiated from the 'imperfect' or Negative Base form. 
The difference is brought out in the methods employed in 
Japanese to express a condition, thus : 

yuka-ba if he goes (or should go) 
yuke-ba since he goes (or has gone) 
yuke-do though he goes (or has gone) 

where yuka, the ' imperfect ' form, is used to express a hypo- 
thetical or unrealized condition, and yuke, the perfect form, 
to express an actual or realized condition. 

The most curious use of the perfect form is that referred 
to above, in conjunction with the particle koso. The strict 
rule of Japanese syntax exacts the perfect, instead of the 


usual conclusive (i. e. the predicative), form of verbs at the 
end of a sentence containing this particle. Thus : 

kore wa tama nari this is a jewel 

kore koso tama nave this indeed is a jewel 

But in the earliest texts a similar idiom is found, sometimes 
without any particle, sometimes with emphatic particles 
other than koso. The sentence 

waga seko wa itsuchi yukame whither has my beloved gone ? 

is an instance of a perfect standing alone. Other examples 
are : 

ta ga koi ni arame (M.) whose love can it be ? 
ika ni arame (M.) how is it, I wonder ? (lit. How 

will it be ?) 

where me is the perfect form of the future verb-suffix mu. In 

ima zo ware kure (M.) now indeed I come 

ame tsuchi no kami nakare ya is it because there are no 

. . . uruwashiki waga tsuma Gods of Heaven or Earth 

sakaru (M.) that I am parted from my 

lovely wife ? 

wag'imoko ika ni omoe ka yo of what has my love been 

mo ochizu ime ni shi miyu thinking that every night I 

(M.) see her in my dreams 

we have the particles zo, ka, and ya followed by a perfect. 

Taking these various examples together, it seems that the 
perfect form, indicating as it does the definite completion 
of a process rather than the lapse of time, has a certain 
emphatic, affirmative value, and thus not unnaturally comes 
to be used with emphatic particles. Deprived of their con- 
text, the above examples perhaps fail to make this point 
clear, but in most of the cases I have examined I think some 
emphatic value can be discerned. 

In the modern language the perfect form standing alone 
without agglutinated suffix is used only after koso, and this 
is merely a survival. Its chief use now is as a base for 
conditional and concessive forms, such as yukeba, yukedo, 
explained above. In early texts we find conditional forms 
composed of a perfect with particles other than ba. Thus : 


nani sure zo . . . hana no how is it that the flowers 
sakite kozukemu (M.) have not come to bloom ? 

{sure is the perfect of suru, 
'to do') 
awamu to omoe koso inochi dragging out my life because 
tsugitsutsu (M.) I hope to meet you 

but these uses are now obsolete. They throw, however, an 
interesting light upon the development of the locution for 
expressing a realized condition in Japanese verbs. It appears 
that first of all we have the perfect standing alone, as in the 
example quoted above, 

sakiwaitamau mono ni ari because we thought, &c. 
to omoe 

Then come cases where the perfect form is reinforced by an 
emphatic or interrogative particle, so that the above sentence 
might read omoe koso, omoe zo, or omoe ya, and these forms 
fall out of use, giving way to a combination omoeba, which 
contains the separative particle ha or wa in its surd form ba. 

The Imperative in Japanese Verbs 

In the Nara period the function of the Imperative is per- 
formed by the ' perfect ' form of verbs of the first conjugation 
and of the verb aru (e. g. yuke, are), while in other verbs 
the Imperative is identical with the Negative Base. Con- 
sequently we find 

tsutome (from tsutomuru, 'perform') 
tate (from tatsu, 'stand') 
se (from suru, 'do') 

and also imperatives of compound forms such as 

nase (from nasu, ' to do ') 

shirashime (from shirashimuru, 'to cause to know', causa- 
tive of shiru) 

imashite (from imashitsuru, a past tense form of imasu, an 
honorific verb = 'to be') 

The addition of the particle yo is not essential for the forma- 
tion of the Imperative. It is found in early texts with verbs 
of all conjugations, but it is a mere exclamation. Later, in 
the case of verbs not of the first conjugation, it came to be 

3270 u 


regarded as an integral part of the imperative form, so that 
it is now regarded as correct to say tsutomeyo, seyo, &c. 
Similar observations apply to imperative forms in ro, such 
as tsukero, which are no doubt survivals of dialect forms, 
the ro being, like yo, an interjection. Forms such as motere 
(=motsu+are), okere (oku+are) appear in the Manyoshu, 
but not later. 

It will be noticed that, neglecting the exclamatory par- 
ticles yo and ro, all imperatives end in e. The imperative 
should perhaps be regarded as a special conjugational form, 
but it seems probable, judging from the existence of forms 
like motere, okere, &c, that it is merely a specialized use of 
the Perfect. 

It may be appropriately mentioned here that the simple 
negative of a verb is rarely used in Japanese except in very 
intimate or very severe conversation. The imperative of 
a polite verb is usually added, as in o kaeri nasai, 'please 
come back', instead of the plain imperative kaere. Here 
nasai is the colloquial form of nasare, the imperative of 
nasaru, a polite verb for 'to do'. 

The negative imperative found in the earliest texts is 
formed on the model na yuki so, 'do not go ! ' where yuki 
is the conjunctive form of the verb. But the use of so is 
not invariable and it is probably only exclamatory, being no 
doubt the same as the particle zo or the so of koso. Examples 
of the negative imperative with and without so are : 

na shise-tamai so (K.) deign not to die 

mitogamubeki waza na se do not do blameworthy 

so (Res.) things 

shigure nafuri so (M.) let it not rain 

na wabi waga seko (M.) do not grieve, my lover 

It is clear that the negative element is na, which is doubtless 
the same as the negative adjective na-ki, na-shi, &c. 

The modern form of the negative imperative is in the 
written language of the type yuku nakare. Here nakare is 
composed of the negative adjective na-ki (probably in its 
conjunctive form na-ku) + the imperative, are, of the auxi- 
liary verb aru. In the modern spoken language the equi- 
valent is yuku na, where na is added to the attributive form 
of the verb, as can be seen from combinations like suru na, 


'do not do !' ochiru na, 'do not fall', &c. Similar construc- 
tions are not wanting in the early language, e. g. : 

ashi fumasu na (K.) do not tread 

wasure tamau na (M.) do not forget 

sutemasu na wasure masuna do not abandon, do not 

(Res.) forget 

Here, it will be seen, na is suffixed to the predicative form, 
and the modern colloquial usage prefers the attributive 
merely because the distinction between predicative and 
attributive always tends to disappear. 

Substantival Forms, ending in -KU, of Verb and Adjective 

The foregoing account of the simple conjugation has not 
included a reference to such verb forms as iwaku, which have 
survived in the modern language in locutions like 

Kdshi iwaku or Kdshi no iwaku what Confucius said 
negawaku wa what I desire 

These are substantival forms, and occur freely in early texts, 
as may be seen from the following examples : 

sogai ni neshiku ima shi kuya- I still hate to think that we 
shi mo (M.) slept back to back 

shi ga mbshishiku (Res.) what he said 

koma no oshikeku mo nashi I do not spare the steed (lit. 
(M.) 'there is no sparing of 

neshiku (K.), neshiku (N.), araku (M.), suraku (M.), 
miraku (M.), oraku (M.), kataraku (M.), aranaku (M.), 
shiranaku (M.), koemaku (M.), omoeramaku (M.), sada- 
metsuraku and moshitsuraku (Res.), &c. 

What first strikes one about these forms is their resemblance 
to the 'adverbial' form of adjectives, which has the same 
termination and can in the same way serve as a noun. Thus, 
kono uchi no chikaku ni, ' in the neighbourhood of this house ', 
furuku yori, 'from of old'. The compound conjugation of 
adjectives consists of this form together with the verb aru, 
and a group like warukarishi, 'was bad', resolves itself upon 
analysis into waruku arishi, 'there was badness'. Indeed, 
seeing that arishi is not a copulative verb, we are bound to 


assume that waruku here is a substantive, and that a sentence 
like kono sakana wa warakarazu represents 'with regard to 
this fish there is not badness'. 

In view of the resemblance between these -ku forms in 
verb and adjective it has been suggested by some Japanese 
grammarians that the conjugation of verb and adjective was 
originally identical. A priori this is not unlikely, but the 
resemblance itself can logically be regarded only as evidence 
that the element ku is of the same origin in each case. It 
does not follow that it is a conjugational form in each case, 
and the fact that ku is found following almost all the verb 
suffixes tends to disprove this supposition. We find it, for 
instance, following: 

1. The tense suffixes — 

mu, as in fukamaku (from fukamu, future of fuku, ' to 

tsu, as in moshitsuraku (from moshitsuru, past of mosu, 

'to say') 
nu, as in fukenuraku (iromfukenuru, past oifukeru, 'to 

grow late ') 
shi, as in tamaishiku (from tamaishi, past of tamau, ' to 

deign ') 

2. The negative suffix — 

zu {nu), as in shiranaku (from shiranu, neg. of shiru, 'to 
know ') 

and it is unusual to find other verb suffixes following these. 
Thus, following the negative suffix we have only ki, in such 
compounds as omowazukeri (ki-ari), and this is rare. Fol- 
lowing the tense suffix nu we have only other tense suffixes, 
e. g. -namu, niki, &c, and following the tense suffix ki we 
have only mu, as in kemu. In other words, the suffixes to 
which ku is added are, with few exceptions, terminal forms 
in any compound conjugational form, and it is therefore not 
safe to assume that ku is a conjugational form. 

Leaving aside the conjectural identity between the con- 
jugation of verb and adjective, it is interesting to examine 
these -ku forms in adjectives. We have, in addition to forms 
of the type ashiku, a number of words like ashikeku. Among 
these are such words as harukeku, sayakeku, akirakeku, &c, 


which at first sight appear identical with ashikeku in forma- 
tion ; but they are conjugable, and have forms harukeshi, 
harukeki, &c. They are adjectives, of which the stem con- 
tains the element ke, whatever its origin. The remainder 
are not conjugable. They appear only in the -ku form, as 
shown in the following examples : 

yo no naka no ukeku tsura- the woefulness and bitterness 

keku (M.) of life 

yasukeku mo nashi (M.) there is no restfulness 

kanashikeku . . . omoiide (K.) thinking of the grievousness 

We can hardly suppose that ku in these cases is a conjuga- 
tional form. It obviously follows a contracted conjugational 
form of the adjective, and it is therefore reasonable to assume 
that it has here some independent significance. Seeking for 
analogies in other words we find the form idzuku, which 
means 'which place', and the evidently cognate forms soko 
and koko = 'that place', 'this place'. The element ko in 
koto, 'a thing', is presumably the same. We may therefore 
conjecture that the ku in such forms as iwaku and ashikeku 
is a vestige of an obsolete word signifying perhaps place, 
perhaps 'thing'. It is not profitable to speculate which, but 
Mr. Yamada ingeniously quotes 

ume no hana chiraku wa whither have the plum 
idzuku (M.) blossoms scattered ? 

where chiraku is taken to mean 'scatter-place'. 

In either case, this derivation explains the substantival 
character of the forms under discussion ; and though forms 
like harukeku must be distinguished from forms like ashikeku 
as explained above, it is probable that the ku in the normal 
adjective conjugation (e. g. waruku) is of the same origin as 
the ku in ashikeku. 

A point which requires explanation is the intervening 
vowel in ashikeku, suraku, and similar forms. In the case 
of ashikeku one may assume an original ashiki-ku. Dr. Aston, 
however, suggests ashiki-aru-koto , which seems a trifle far- 

The verb forms are not uniform. We have tamaishiku, 
where ku appears to follow the attributive form (shi) of the 
tense suffix ki, but after other suffixes there is an inter- 


calated a, as in fukamaku (fukamu . . . ku) , shiranaku (shi- 
ranu . . . ku) , and where ku is suffixed to a verb in its simple 
conjugation this a also appears, as in iwaku, toraku. That 
this a is not part of the ordinary first conjugation base form 
is clear from the fact that it occurs in composition with verbs 
of other conjugations and with irregular verbs. The earliest 
texts (and all forms cited in this account are taken from the 
Nara period) contain suraku, araku, kuraku, miraku, kouraku 
(bigrade), &c. In other words, with verbs of the first or 
quadrigrade conjugation we have the termination aku, with 
most other verbs we get the termination raku. The latter 
is not mentioned by Aston, but it renders more plausible his 
derivation from aru +ku. Taking attributive verb forms in 
each case, and adding aku, which we assume to represent 
aru +ku, we have, for example : 

ist conjugation toru +a+ku 
negau +a +ku 
tsuguru +a +ku 
kouru +a +ku 
miru +a +ku 
aru +a +ku 
suru +a +ku 
kuru +a +ku 
fukamu +a +ku 
shiranu +a+ku 
moshitsuru +a +ku 
omowashimuru +a + ku 

Irregular verbs 














The only form which will not fit into this scheme is that of 
the type tamaishiku, where ku follows directly the attributive 
form of the tense suffix ki ; but the conjugation of this tense 
suffix is obscure, and probably composite. 

The evidence is therefore fairly strong in favour of a 
development such as that suggested, though it is clearly 
useless to press conjecture any further and inquire whether 
there actually existed an ancestral form aru +ku. 

The real interest of this form lies in the explanation which 
it furnishes of the compound adjectival conjugation of the 
model warukaru. Without this clue it is hard to understand 
the uses of the 'adverbial' form of the adjective, particularly 
when it acts as a noun. 


The conjugations found in the texts of the Nara period are : 

































































' come ' 

There is no essential difference between the second and third 
conjugations. Both are bigrade, and the difference in the vowel 
termination of the stems (e and i, as in tabe and ochi) can easily 
be accounted for. It will be observed that the essential difference 
between the bigrade conjugation and the quadrigrade is the 
existence in the quadrigrade, but not in the bigrade, of an Imper- 
fect form ending in a, and the existence in the bigrade, but not 
in the quadrigrade, of a special Attributive form composed of the 
predicative and the syllable ru. When we come to examine the 
verbs of the Nara period we find that most of the bigrade verbs 
are derivative, being either passive verbs, or specialized transitive 
or intransitive forms. Further, the Nara period texts have pre- 
served in a number of cases a full quadrigrade conjugation of 
verbs which are not so specialized. Thus we find the following 
verbs : 

tabu, wasuru, kakuru, todomu, taru, furu, susutnu, osoru, 

samatagu, waku, saku, 
and many others, all conjugated in the quadrigrade type, like 
yuku. Sometimes the equivalent bigrade forms, such as taburu, 
tabure ; wasururu, wasure ; kakureru, kakure, &c, exist alongside 
of them, sometimes they do not appear until later. There can, 



therefore, be hardly any doubt that the whole bigrade conjuga- 
tion is derivative, and is obtained from the first, or quadrigrade, 
by agglutination. In other words, the first three conjugations 
were originally one. This conclusion is supported by the fact 
(v. Chamberlain, 'Luchuan Language', T.A.S.J. xxiii) that 
Luchuan verbs, although richer than Japanese in conjugational 
forms, are all inflected alike. There is only one verb conjugation 
in Luchuan. 

It remains, however, to discover whether the one original con- 
jugation, from which the first three conjugations arise, was 
identical with the first conjugation (quadrigrade) of the Nara and 
succeeding periods. 

The first conjugation has, as its distinguishing features, 

(i) the absence of a specialized attributive form ending in ru ; 
(2) the imperfect form ending in a. 

If the original conjugation, from which the quadrigrade and 
bigrade derive, ever possessed a specialized attributive form, we 
might expect to find an attributive form in Luchuan, on the 
reasonable supposition that that language has preserved features 
of the ancestral language common to it and to archaic Japanese. 
The attributive form does, in fact, exist in Luchuan, in all verbs, 
including those like torn, which in Japanese are of the first con- 
jugation (e.g. tuyuru, which by well-substantiated phonetic laws 
can be shown to = toruru). 

Further, upon examining Japanese verbs for traces of a con- 
jugation which, while like the first conjugation in other respects, 
has a special attributive form, we find among the ' irregular' verbs 
two which share features of the quadrigrade and the bigrade 
conjugations. These are : 






shinu, 'die' 
inu, ' depart ' 





Here we have a conjugation which, while it exhibits the charac- 
teristic Imperfect in a of the First Conjugation, also has a special 
attributive form in ru. It is not unreasonable to conjecture that 
an 'irregular' verb may seem irregular because it is an early form, 
which has not undergone additions or subtractions to which other 
verbs have subsequently been subjected. Pursuing the same line 
of inquiry, we may turn to the verbal suffixes, which we can 
fairly assume in some cases to have been at one time independent 
verbs. The most suggestive of these is the suffix -su (v. p. 164). 




A uxili 














The following table shows its forms, alongside of those of the 
auxiliary verb suru, with which it is cognate : 


Here we find on the one hand an Imperfect form in a, on the 
other an Attributive form in ru. Again, the honorific verb masu 
has an attributive form masuru and an imperfect form masa 
(e. g. kaeri ki masamu (M.), 'will come back'). 

The balance of evidence, then, seems to be in favour of the 
view that the original conjugation of most, if not all, Japanese 
verbs was of the type 

shinu, shinuru, shini, shina. 

That it had an Imperfect form ending in a is practically certain ; 
that it had a special Attributive form ending in -ru is, though 
not certain, probable. 

Turning now to the present bigrade conjugations, it is worth 
while to inquire in what way they are derived from the supposed 
original conjugation. In the first place, we have, as mentioned 
above, a number of verbs now of bigrade type which are found 
in the Nara period as quadrigrade. Perhaps the most instructive 
of these is tabu, 'to eat', the same verb as that which appears in 
the foregoing table as a type of the second (Bigrade) conjugation. 
In the Nara period the following forms occur : 

Predicative tabu 



Attributive tabu 



Here we 

have complete 

all the distinctive forms 

of the First 


The following list shows other 

verbs undergoing the same 

change : 






' to stop ' 


(todoma ?) 








' to fear ' 










' to forget ' 












These are examples of a change of conjugation without any 
change of meaning or function. But the majority of verbs in 
the bigrade conjugations are specialized forms. Such are all 
Passive Verbs, which are obtained by agglutinating the auxiliary 
verb uru (or eru) to the stem. We thus find such verbs as 

yukaru (yukaturu, yukare, yukare) 
which is the passive verb derived from yuku, and is conjugated 
like uru, in the second conjugation (u, uru, e). 

There is also a large group of derived verbs, providing special 
transitive and intransitive forms, 1 which are obtained from 
original (known or conjectured) first conjugation forms by agglu- 
tination of uru and aru respectively. Thus from todomu (which 
is used in the First Conjugation in the Nara period) we have 
todomaru to stay (intransitive) 

todomuru~\ ,. ... x 

. , > to stop (transitive) 

todomeru J r v ' 

which are of the Second Conjugation. 

It seems probable that such forms as osoruru (osoreru), wasu- 
ruru (wasureru), &c, where verbs have moved from the First to 
the Second Conjugation without any change in meaning or func- 
tion, are due to the influence of these specialized passive and 
similar forms. There is a curious and marked tendency in 
Japanese to accumulate suffixes at the end of a word, without 
any particular addition to its meaning. 

The difference between the Second and Third Conjugations 
cannot be explained with certainty. The third differs from the 
second in having a terminal i, instead of e, in the imperfect and 
conjunctive forms. That third conjugation verbs are derived 
from earlier first conjugation forms is clear from such examples 
as ikiru and koriru, which correspond to earlier verbs iku and koru 
in the first conjugation. It seems likely that the variation from e 
to i is merely accidental, based on grounds of euphony ; or perhaps 
due to the agglutination of the auxiliary iru, instead of uru or aru. 

It remains to explain the Fourth Conjugation, which is com- 
posed of a small number of verbs with monosyllabic roots — e. g. : 































1 v. p. 199. 


Aston suggests that these verbs owe their peculiarities to their 
shortness. If, for instance, miru were inflected according to the 
First Conjugation, we should have, judging from the stem mi, 











where the characteristic vowel i, of the stem, would be obliterated 
in all but one form. Consequently the sound r has been inserted. 
This seems reasonable. An alternative explanation is that an 
early form of the verb was mu (Predicative), with a subsequent 
attributive form muru, which by a sound-change not uncommon 
in Japanese became miru. An analogy can be found in many 
verbs ending in mu. Most of these, as found in the Nara period, 
are of the First Conjugation, e. g. kanashimu, 'to lament', hage- 
mu, 'to encourage', itsukushimu, 'to love', &c. Chamberlain 
draws attention to the verb kokoromu (' to try '), which is probably 
composed of kokoro, 'heart', and mu, this conjectured early form 
of miru, 'to see'. The earliest forms of this verb were kokoromu, 
kokoromuru, kokoromi, and it later became kokoromiru. Further, 
the Luchuan verb for 'to see' is nung (Predicative), nuru (Attri- 
butive), which in accordance with well-established phonetic equi- 
valencies between Luchuan and Japanese correspond with mu 
and muru. Miru can therefore be regarded as originally of the 
bigrade conjugation, which we have shown to be derivative. 

There is not much evidence to show what was the history of 
the other verbs in the Fourth Conjugation. There is a verb nasu, 
appearing frequently in the earliest texts, e. g. : 

kumoi nasu toku (M.) distant as the skies 

naku ko nasu shitai (M.) longing, like a crying child 

tama nasu imo (K.) my sister who is like a jewel 

kagami nasu tsuma my wife who is like a mirror 

From its meaning, it seems almost certain that this is a causative 
form, cognate with niru, ' to resemble '. If this is so, we must 
assume that the earlier form of niru was nuru with the original 
first conjugation which we have conjectured, viz. nu, nuru, na, 
ni. No doubt the remaining verbs of the fourth conjugation have 
undergone similar changes. 

We are still left in the dark as to the original forms of four 
important verbs, 

aru, to be, to exist 
kuru, to come 

>to dwell 


> The conjugation of aru was, and remains, 

Predicative art Imperfect ara 

Attributive aru Perfect are 

Conjunctive art 

and there is no other example of a predicative form ending in i. 
The corresponding Luchuan form is ang, which represents aru, 
not art, in Japanese. 

The verb oru is generally considered to be a compound of (w)i 
(^§) and aru (though there is no special reason to suppose that 
it is a composite form). Its predicative form in Nara texts is 
apparently (w)ori, to judge from a few examples where the 
reading is fairly certain (^ Jgl), and we may therefore take its 
conjugation to have been identical with that of aru. The forms 
of (w)iru itself are not clear, but in the Nara period we occas- 
sionally find u (= wu), which seems to have been the predicative 
form — another example, perhaps, of a first conjugation verb 
approximating to the fourth conjugation. 

There is no explanation for the distinctive forms of kuru, 'to 
come' (ku, kuru, ko, ki, kure), but one cannot expect to find 
a uniform development in verbs with a monosyllabic stem. On 
account of their very shortness they doubtless tended to assume 
forms easily pronounced and distinguished. 


It has been shown above that the forms of the Simple 
Conjugation of Verbs represent only primary ideas, without 
reference to considerations of time or mode. When it is 
desired to express these secondary aspects, use must be made 
of one or more of a group of suffixes, which are attached 
to appropriate forms of the Simple Conjugation. These 
suffixes, with certain exceptions which will be referred to 
later, are themselves verbs, possessing as a rule all the forms 
of their own Simple Conjugation, to which further suffixes 
of the same nature can be attached to express further varia- 
tions of meaning. This is best illustrated by a simple 
example. The suffix -shimuru attached to the Imperfect 
Form of verbs transforms them into Causative verbs, thus : 

yuka-shimuru = to cause to go 

and this is a verb which has all the forms of the Simple 
Conjugation, e. g. yukashimu, yukashimuru, yukashime, yuka- 
shime, yukashimure, to which, consistently with sense, further 


suffixes can be attached. For example, -raru is a suffix 
denoting the Passive Voice, and is attached to the Imperfect 
form. Therefore : 

yukashime-raruru = to be caused to go 

and this verb can in its turn be conjugated yukashime-raruru, 
yukashime-raru,-rare, &c, and still further suffixes attached. 
Obviously, as the meaning of the verb increases in com- 
plexity, the number of suffixes which can be attached so as 
to make a coherent word, becomes less. To yukashimeraruru, 
however, it is still possible to make additions — for instance, 
to fix its tense by, say, the verb suffix -ki (also declinable), 
denoting past time. This is attached to the conjunctive 
form, and we have 

yukashimerareki = was caused to go. 

Theoretically it is possible to make even longer forms than 
this, but there is naturally in practice a limit to the size 
of these structures. When they become too complex in 
meaning or too cumbrous in length, some other locution is 

Though many of these suffixes are almost certainly them- 
selves composed of one or more verbs (such as the verbs 
aru, 'to be', uru, 'to have' or 'get', suru, 'to do' or 'make') 
and may in that sense be regarded as auxiliary verbs, they 
differ from auxiliary verbs in other languages in that they 
cannot stand alone, but must be closely attached to other 
verbs. Thus, yakaruru, 'to be burned', is no doubt com- 
posed of yaku +aru +uru, but the two latter verbs in such 
compositions cannot fairly be compared with such indepen- 
dent words as 'to be' or 'to get' or 'to have'. It seems 
therefore mistaken to follow Dr. Otsuki in treating the verb- 
suffixes as a special class of Auxiliary Verbs. Nor is it satis- 
factory to include them with the Teniwoha or Particles, as 
was the practice of the earlier grammarians. They have 
nothing at all in common with words like ni, ga, wo, wa, &c, 
except that they are sometimes monosyllabic, and are rather 
difficult to fit in among other parts of speech. Much the 
simplest, and surely the most reasonable, method is not to 
regard them as integral parts of speech at all, but as 
specialized suffixes, no longer falling within the definition 
of a word, by means of which is formed the Compound 


Conjugation of the verb. This is the method adopted here, 
and the suffixes are grouped according to their functions and 
not according to any conjectured identity of form. 

It is important to remember that the words formed by 
the addition of verb suffixes are themselves complete 
verbs. The form yukashimuru, for instance, is an entity, 
comparable in meaning only with ' to cause to go ' which 
is composed of isolated parts. It is capable of all the 
activities of the verb yuku, and is more accurately 
described as a causative verb derived from yuku than 
the causative form of the verb yuku. 

Before these suffixes are described, it should be made clear 
that, though the compound conjugation of a Japanese verb 
serves to express relations roughly approximating to rela- 
tions of time, voice, mood, &c, as we understand them, it 
does not express exactly those relations. Further, the Com- 
pound Conjugation, while it is not explicit as to certain 
relations regarded as essential in English, can express other 
relations which are not precisely conveyed by any form of 
an English verb. 





Imperfect of Simple 
Conjugation plus 











'Imperfect' or 
Negative Base 







The two suffixes are in reality one. They are attached to 
the Imperfect form of verbs, and where that form ends in 
a the suffix ru is used, where it ends in another vowel -raru 
is used, thus : 

naku, 'to weep', passive naka-ru, naka-ruru, naka-re, &c. 
taberu,. 'to eat', ,, tabe-raru, tabe-raruru, tabe-rare, 

miru, 'to see', „ mi-raru, mi-raruru, mi-rare, &c. 


These are the suffixes used in Japanese to form a compound 
conjugation denoting the passive voice, and other related 
aspects of the verb, which will be described below. Thus : 

hito utaru a person is struck (Concl.) 
utaruru hito ,, who is struck (Attrib.) 

hito utare ,, being struck (Conj.) 

hito utarezu ,, is not struck (Neg.) 

hito koso utarure ,, is struck (Perf.) 

The original form of these suffixes was probably different. 
The earliest literature contains almost exclusively forms 
compounded of -yu and -rayu (according as the Imperfect 
form to which they are attached ends in a or another vowel) . 
The paradigm is as shown : 

Imperfect in 
Form a i or e 
















Note. There are occasional exceptions, for the sake of 
euphony. Thus, for omowa-yu we find omoyu, which 
persists to-day in the form oboyu-ru or oboyeru. 

Iwayuru, arayuru, miyuru, kikoyuru, &c, are further 
examples of the survival of these forms in the modern 

The following are examples of the use of this early form : 
hito ni shir ay u na (M.) let it not be known to men 
miru ni shirayenu uma- a groom not known by sight 
hito (M.) 

Though the forms in -yu, -rayu are characteristic of the 
Nara period, the present forms in -ru, -raru are also found, 
but less frequently. Thus : 

onoko nomi wa chichi no na should men only bear their 
oite menoko wa iwarenu mo- fathers' name and in the 
no ni are ya (Res.) case of women should it be 

not spoken ? 

Morokoshi no toki sakai ni sent to the distant land of 
tsukawasare (M.) Morokoshi 


There is not sufficient evidence to show whether the forms 
in -yu are earlier than those in -ru, nor is there any definite 
proof of the origin of either form. But there can be little 
doubt that both are vestiges of a combination of the two 
auxiliaries aru, 'to be', and uru, 'to get', 'to have'. No 
other assumption accounts so completely for the various uses 
of the verb forms in question, as will be seen from the 
following account of them. 

(i) To form Passive Verbs. 

The Passive Voice in English may be regarded as a purely 
grammatical device for describing an action without men- 
tioning the agent. Passive verbs in Japanese, while they 
can perform this function, can have various additional signi- 
ficances. Thus in : 

uta-ruru to be struck 
tabe-raruru to be eaten 

we have an ordinary passive. But, while in English only 
transitive verbs can be turned into the passive, in Japanese 
all verbs, without exception, can form a compound conjuga- 
tion with the suffixes -ru or -raru. Thus, taking an intransi- 
tive verb like shinu, 'to die', we can construct a sentence 

haha ko ni shinaru 

meaning 'the mother suffers the death of the child'. The 
nearest rendering of this in English is, perhaps, 

'the mother has her child die', 

on the same lines as 

he had his clothes stolen 
or he got struck by lightning, 

where the words had and got do not denote any activity on 
the part of the subject but are merely a means of expressing 
the passive aspect of the verbs 'strike' and 'steal'. If we 
assume such forms as shinaru, &c, to be derived, by elision, 
from a hypothetical combination 

shin(u)-ar(u)-uru (or shini-ari-uru) 
die be get 


the full range of their meaning becomes easily compre- 
hensible. Further examples of this use are given below : J 
yuki ni furayete sakeru ume plum blossoms that had 

no hana (M.) opened after having the snow 

fall on them 
Atoka no minato wo watasan they wished to cross the har- 

to suru ni hashi wo hikarete bour of Ataka, but the 

kawa fukashi (HK.) bridgehadbeen pulled down 

and the river was deep 
ware zoku ni taikin wo nusu- I had a large sum stolen by 

mare-tari (Mod.) robbers 

kare wa hitsuzb no ran ni he was greatly disappointed 

karerarete bki ni shitsubo shi- by the withering of his or- 

tari (Mod.) chids 

An example where the English and Japanese idioms are 
parallel is furnished by such a sentence as 
atai towareba sengohyaku if you are asked the price 

kwan to iraeyo (Uji) reply ' 1,500 kwan' 

(2) To form Potential Verbs. 

An extended, or perhaps more accurately a parallel, func- 
tion of the passive forms is to express ability to perform an 
action. Thus, in certain contexts : 

yukaruru can go 

taberaruru can eat 

miraruru can see 

This is at first sight curious, but it is not hard to under- 
stand when one remembers that the termination contains 
the verb uru (to get, obtain), and that this word is used in 
the same way as the auxiliary verb can in English. Thus, 
in classical modern Japanese we find such locutions 2 as 
e-iwazu cannot say 

miru wo ezu cannot see 

1 It should be noticed that where the agent is named, it is denoted 
by the instrumental particle ni. Further, it should be observed that 
in Japanese a passive verb can govern an object, which is denoted 
by the 'accusative particle' wo. 

1 It is curious that these forms are invariably negative. That the 
use of e prefixed to the principal verb is not a borrowed Chinese 
idiom is pretty clear from its frequency in the medieval colloquial 
preserved in the Kyogen and in dialects. 

33?> Y 



while many dialects preserve forms like 

yomi-eru for yomeru 
iki-eru ,, ikareru 
kiki-eru ,, kikoeru 

Moreover, forms like ari uru (M.), 'can exist', art emu (M.), 
'will be able to exist', occur occasionally in Nara period 

There can be hardly any doubt therefore that these 
'Passive' forms derive their Potential meanings from the 
verb uru, and it is probable that some if not all of the forms 
in -yuru contain that verb alone, and not the verb -am as 
well. This assumption makes it easy to account for the 
existence of such pairs as 

miyuru to be visible 

miraruru to be seen, to be able to see 

oboyuru to learn 

oboeraruru to be thought 

and is consistent with their different meanings. (See also 
under Transitive and Intransitive Verbs, p. 199.) 

The potential use occurs in the earliest writings, e. g. : 

momochidaruyaniwamomiyu a myriad abounding home- 
kuni no ho mo miyu (K.) steads can be seen and the 

fullness of the land can be 
imo wo omoi i mo nerayenu I cannot sleep for thinking of 

(M.) my love 

uchitoketaru i mo nerarezu being unable to sleep an easy 
(Mak.) sleep 

An interesting extension of the potential use is to be observed 
in such phrases as 

ne nomi shi nakayu (M.) I can but weep (lit. only cries 

are cried) 
harobaro ni omoyuru Tsuku- the land of Tsukushi, for 
shi no kuni wa (M.) which I can but feel a long- 

fude wo toreba mono kakaru if you take up a pen you 
(Tosa) naturally write 


tsukikage wa shizen no tomo- the moonlight serves as a 
shibi ni mochiirare, matsu lamp and the sound of the 
wo harau kaze no oto koto no wind sweeping over the pine 
oto ni ayamataru (HK.) trees might be mistaken for 

the sound of a harp 

It will be noticed that the above examples show various 
gradations in meaning, from 'can' to 'may' and 'must'. It 
is probable that such humble forms as zonzeraru (' I venture 
to think'), in the epistolary style, are of this category. 

(3) To form Honorific Verbs. 

An important feature of the passive forms is their frequent 
use in an honorific sense. This is usually explained as an 
extension of the 'potential' significance of these forms, it 
being thought more respectful to say that a superior person 
is able to do a thing if he chooses than that he actually 
condescends to do it. The usage is a well-established one, 
and is common in the modern language, both written and 
colloquial. E. g. : 

kikun wa kono sho wo have you read this book ? 
yomaretaru ka ? 
B. kun wa Kyoto ni oraru Mr. B. is in Kyoto 

The polite forms nasaru, 'to do', kudasaru, 'to con- 
descend', irassharu, 'to be present' (=irase-raru), &c, also 
illustrate this honorific use. 

I have not come across any examples of the honorific use 
of forms in -ru, -ram in the Nara period, though causative 
forms in su (v. pp. 165 et seq.) were freely used in that way. 
From the Heian period onwards the forms in -ru, -raru 
appear frequently with an honorific sense, as in the following 
examples : 

iroiro ni kuro wo tsukusare- he made great efforts in 

keri (Sandai) many ways 

sdzoku hito kudari torase yo- he gave him a suit of clothes 

rodzu no koto itawararu (Uji) and cared for him in all 


ano tachi nagerare sorae ya to as he said ' Please to throw 

iikereba (HK.) down that sword' 




-su, -sasu, and shimu 

In modern Japanese a causative verb can be formed from 
any other verb in its simple conjugation by adding to the 
Imperfect ('Negative Base') form one of the suffixes -su, 
-sasu, or shimu. Verbs thus formed are conjugated according 
to the following paradigm : 

















Imperfect or 
Negative Base 









There is no distinction between -su and -sasu except that 
-su is added to bases ending in -a, and -sasu to all others. 
A distinction can be drawn, but is not always observed, 
between the force of these two suffixes and that of -shimu 
in the modern language. This will be mentioned presently. 
Examples of causative verbs formed as above are : 

to cause to sleep 


to cause to go 
to cause to eat 
to cause to receive 

and also the forms nemurashimuru, yukashimuru, ukeshi- 
muru, tabeshimuru, &c. 

The history of these suffixes is somewhat complicated, but 
deserves study. There can be little doubt that -su is cognate 
with the verb su-ru, meaning 'to do', but it is not quite 
clear how verbs like yukasu have come to bear their present 
meanings. In the very earliest writings the suffix -su seems 
to have an honorific and not a causative force. Thus : 
(i) sayobai ni aritatashi yo- standing here to woo her 

bai ni arikayowase (K. 
wa ga tatasereba ' (do.) 
(2) omi no otome hotari torasu 

1 These are the words of a god (Yachihoko-no-kami) speaking of 

truly, going to and fro to 

woo her 
while I am standing 
the maiden catches fireflies 


(3) ama-terasu o-mi-kami (K.) the Heaven-shining great- 


(4) na tsumasu ko (M.) maiden plucking herbs 

(5) yamada mamorasu ko (M.) maiden guarding the upland 


(6) sumegamitachi no yosashi the harvest which the Sove- 

matsuramu mitoshi (Res.) reign Gods will bestow 

(7) shinubase waga se (M.) remember, my beloved 

(8) hanaemi ni emashishi kara because you smiled with the 

ni (M.) smile of a flower 

(9) Ame-no-oshio-mimi no- His Augustness Ame-no- 

mikoto ame no ukihashi oshio-mimi standing on the 
ni tatashite (K.) floating bridge of Heaven 

(10) asobashishi shishi (K.) the wild boar which he was 

pleased (to shoot). 

In all the above examples one can trace no causative 
meaning, but only an honorific sense, and that (e. g. in 2 
and 3) is sometimes doubtful. 1 Judging by analogy with 
causative verbs formed from adjectives, such as katamuru, 
shiromuru, the causative element, even of shimuru itself, 
seems to reside in muru {mi uru, 'to get' ?) and not in -shi, 
which is no doubt a part of -suru. It is therefore possible 
that the verbs in -su had originally no causative meaning, 
but were merely slightly emphatic, so that na tsumasu ko 
would perhaps correspond to 'maiden who dost pluck herbs'. 

Sir E. Satow, on the other hand, considers that they are 
causative verbs by origin, first by extension used honori- 
fically, and then by a common process of degradation losing 
both causative and honorific value. Either of these explana- 
tions is better than the device of many Japanese gram- 
marians, who get over the difficulty by styling these forms 
'lengthened words' (engen) and letting it go at that. 

Perhaps the existence of such a form as yosasu (v. Example 
6) is evidence that su existed first as a causative termination, 
since it is formed from yosu, which is in its turn a causative 
(or more strictly a transitive 2 ) verb derived from yoru, ' to 

1 In aga ko tobashitsu (M.), 'my child has flown', there can be 
neither honorific nor causative sense ; but this is a poem by Omi 
Okura, whose language though vivid is often curious. 

* See the section on Trans, and Intrans. Verbs, p. 199. 


approach'. Further, it will be seen from the two following 
quotations (both from the songs in the Kojiki, which are the 
earliest available source) that a true causative and a quasi- 
honorific form of the same verb can exist together : 

wa ga keseru osuhi no suso the skirt of the robe which 
(K.) I am wearing 

hito ni ariseba tachi hake ma- if thou wert a man, Oh ! I 
ski wo, kinu kise-mashi wo would gird a sword on thee, 
(K.) Oh! I would clothe thee 

with garments 

Here we have, formed from kiru, 'to wear', the two forms 
ki-suru and ke-su. 

It will be noticed that, with the exception of the two last 
forms, all the verbs in -su quoted above are formed from 
verbs with Base ending in -a, and that their conjugation is 
in several cases -su, (su), -sa, (shi), -se (?), thus differing 
from the paradigm (su, suru, se, se, sure) given above for 
the true causative suffix. 

There are however some further exceptions which are 
formed from verbs with base not ending in -a. These are of 
interest in that they show the origin of certain ancient words 
which exist unchanged in the modern language. In the Nara 
period we find, in addition to kesu, 

nasu . . . formed from nuru, to sleep 
sesu ... ,, ,, suru, to do 

mesu ... ,, ,, miru, to see 

The words 

omoosu . . . from omou, to think 

kikosu ... ,, kiku, to hear 

shirosu ... ,, shiru, to know 

orosu ... ,, oru, to weave 

are also found, either alone or combined with mesu, as in 
omoshimesu (oboshimesu) , kikoshimesu, shiroshimesu. 
Other archaic forms of similar derivation are : 

hakashi, a sword, from haku, to gird on 
torashi, 1 a bow, ,, toru, to pull, take 
mikeshi, clothing, ,, kiru, to wear 
1 The word toshi, ' year ', which originally meant 'harvest', is per- 

and it may be conjectured that 

nasu, to do 

is derived from an obsolete verb nu, to be. 

The usage is so irregular that I do not think it is safe to 
draw any inference from the existence of the two conjuga- 
tions of -su. By the Heian period the termination su (su), 
sa, shi, se had fallen into disuse, surviving only in a few 
words such as mesu and asobasu. At the same time, the 
suffix shimu, which, whatever the original meaning of su 
may have been, was an undoubted causative in the Nara 
period, now became infrequent, and when used generally had 
an honorific value. The place of both su (sa, shi, se) the 
honorific and -shimu the causative was taken by -su and 
-sasu conjugated as shown in the paradigm at the head of 
this section. 

Before illustrating this later use, the following examples 
of the earliest use of -shimu " should be quoted : 

sakayeshime tamae (Rituals) deign to cause (them) to 


Mikado to tatete amenoshita thinking to set him up as 
wo osame shimemu to omoite Emperor and make him rule 
(Res.) over the Land 

In the Heian period -shimu loses its purely causative force, 
and has almost invariably an honorific value. Thus : 

mifune sumiyaka ni koga- pray row out the boat 

shime tamae (Tosa) 

Mikado oki ni odorokase ta- His Majesty, greatly fright- 

maite kanzeshime-kikoshime- ened, was moved beyond 

su koto kagiri nashi (Uji) measure 

haps a form of toru, ' to take ', the words (tosu) and torasu forming 
a pair like yosu and yosasu from yoru. 

1 The forms in shime are sometimes found written phonetically, 
e - S- $c. Jfl itX J& 2fc sakayeshime ; but the termination is most 
often represented by the character ^ e. g. fy $|r sakayeshime, which 
shows clearly that there is a full causative sense. 

The forms in su are more frequently written phonetically, but the 
suffix is also found represented by 0f, thus yosasu appears as 
^ $c ^r an d a l so as fflf is?* The difference between the force of 
&• and Jjjf respectively is obvious. 


In the Kamakura period, however, shimuru reverts to its 
original use as a causative. In works like the Heike Mono- 
gatari, for instance, it is very rare to find it with an honorific 
value : 

uta wo narawashimu he made him learn poetry. 

shukuun no shikarashimuru what predestination causes 

tokoro (== shika -\-arashimu- to take place 

ru, caus. of aru) 

jinpu sotto ni kaburashimu, he poured his blessings on 

kntoku soto ni arawaru (caus. distant lands and his virtue 

of kaburu) was spread abroad 

Returning now to su-ru, sasu-ru, we find it in the Heian 
period firmly established as a suffix of which the sense is 
primarily causative. Thus : 

me no ouna ni adzukete yashi- he gave it (the child) to his 

nawasu (Take.) wife to bring up 

hito domo idashi motomesa- they sent people out in 

suredo usenikeri (Mak.) search, but it had vanished 

As a rule the conjugationis as stated above, of the model -su, 
-suru, -se, -sure, but it is not so constant as the grammarians 
pretend, and there are many exceptions in the classical period. 
Such forms, for instance, are found as 

narawashi-taru (' cause to learn ') Impf . in shi, not se 

niowashi-te ('cause to smell') ,, ,, shi, ,, se 

fukasa.-nu (' cause to blow ') Base ,, sa, ,, se 

narawasa.-mu (' cause to learn ') ,, ,, sa, ,, se 

sesasu mono (' cause to do ') Att. ,, su, ,, se 

which belong to a complete conjugation of the model su, su, 
sa, shi, se (sa, 4-grade). 

It is difficult to reconcile the two, but it seems probable 
that the earliest * forms are those in su, su, sa, shi, se, and 
that these were gradually assimilated to forms of the Lower 
Bigrade Conjugation. There is no reason to expect rigidity 
in these matters ; and the change from quadrigrade to lower 
bigrade is very common, as the following list will show. 

1 It is true that in the Kojiki songs quoted above we have tatashi 
and kayowase, but in the other cases the forms are all regular quadri- 
grade conj . 


Nara Period 

Heian Period 

osori (fear) 
susumu (advance) 
samatagu (prevent) 
kakura-ba (hide) 



(lower bigrade) 


wasura-ji (forget) 



There is no doubt that poetry and metrical prose (which, 
one must remember, were the chief purposes for which the 
pure written language was employed for centuries) are 
favourable to changes of this sort. 

A further peculiarity is the existence of an independent 
verb form sasu, as in 

hito ni shikaru beki furumai 

wa saseji (G.) 
yoki otoko no kuruma todo- 

mete mono ii anai sasetaru 


will not allow people to be- 
have in that way 

I stopped the carriage of a 
good looking man and asked 
him to tell me (lit. ' speaking 
caused him to inform ') 

As a causative form of the auxiliary verb suru we should 
expect se-sasu-ru which is, in fact, the usual form ; but in 
the Manyoshu we find sesu (in an honorific sense) followed 
in later writings, as just mentioned, by sasu-ru, lower bigrade 
(as a causative) . It seems probable that sasu-ru and sesasu- 
ru developed independently, with a slight difference in 
meaning, just as in the case of similar pairs derived from 
very common verbs. Thus we have : 

Archaic Later 

suru, 'do' sesu 

miru, 'see' mesu 

kiru, 'wear' kesu 
niru, 'resemble' — 
eru, 'get' — 

nuru, 'sleep' nasu 

The difference is between direct and indirect causation, 
e. g. kisuru is 'to put clothes on a person', kisasuru is 'to 
cause a person to wear clothes' (v. also Trans, and Intrans. 
Verbs) . 

3*7° z 









(esu-ru) ? 





The analogy revealed by this table is fairly convincing, 
and if it is correct we may assume that -sasu was first of all 
an independent verb, which gradually by usage became a 
verbal suffix, first of the 4th grade conjugation, and later 
of the 2nd. Once we have two sets of forms, it is natural 
to expect confusion at a later period, for the simple reason 
that ordinary people cannot be expected to obey rules dis- 
covered for them long after their death by extraordinary 
people like grammarians ; so that we need not be put out 
by such irregularities as the existence side by side of two 
types of conjugations for one suffix. The fact that some 
verbs take -suru only, instead of -sasuru, is no doubt due to 
avoidance of duplication of the a sound — thus, yukasuru 
rather than yukasasuru. 

We may conclude the discussion of causative verbs by an 
account of their various meanings : 

In the first place, there are obvious differences in meaning, 
dependent on context or on the sense of the verb from which 
the causative is formed. Thus in 

uma wo hashirasuru to make a horse run 

kane wo utashimuru to have a gong struck 

ko wo nakasuru to make a child cry 

midzu wo nomasuru to give (someone) water to drink 

koto wo shirasuru to let (a person) know something 

we have various gradations of meaning, i. e. 

directly causing an action 
indirectly causing an action 
participating in an action 
permitting an action 

It is important to realize this wide range of meanings, 
because a number of idiomatic usages are due to the desire 
to express one of them precisely. 1 

It is here, for instance, that the distinction, if any, between 

1 It may be worth noting here that, on reading the works of 
Japanese grammarians, I found myself unable to follow their ela- 
borate abstract discussions of the Causative and an intricate classi- 
fication, until it dawned upon me that the writers were trying to 
reach by analysis distinctions which in English are explicit in the 
words 'make', 'cause', 'let', &c. It was a striking demonstration 
of the advantages of an analytic language. 


-suru and -shimuru is to be sought. Shimuru is generally 
used instead of -suru in the case of direct causatives, parti- 
cularly where the action is, so to speak, forced upon the 
agent. Extreme examples would be : 

ko wo nemurasu to put a child to sleep 

ko wo nemurashimu to force a child to sleep 

Again a causative verb standing alone, such as utasuru, 
represents only the general idea 'to cause beating', and (just 
as in the case of passive verbs) is not explicit or implicit as 
to subject or object. It therefore becomes necessary as a rule 
to distinguish either the agent, or the object, or both, of the 
action which is caused. In the case of intransitive verbs 
this is simple, because there is no object of the action caused, 
but only an object of the causation. Thus uma wo hashira- 
suru can only mean 'to make a horse run', and ko wo 
nakashimuru ' to make a child cry'. 1 The accusative particle 
wo is here sufficient to designate the agent of the action 
which is caused, because it is at the same time the object 
of the act of causation. 

With transitive verbs, some difficulties arise. First we 
have the case where only the agent of the action caused is 
mentioned. Thus : 

hito wo utawashimuru to cause a person to sing 

Here there is no ambiguity. Similarly where the object of 
the action caused, but not the agent of the action caused, 
is mentioned, e. g. 

uta wo utawashimuru to cause songs to be sung 

When it is necessary to mention both agent and object of 
the action caused, the particle ni denotes the agent, the 
particle wo denotes the object. E. g. : 

Ko wa Otsu ni Hei wo utasu Ko causes Otsu to strike Hei 
hito ni uta wo utawasuru to cause people to sing songs 

Sometimes, for greater precision or emphasis, a periphrasis 
is adopted, e. g. : 

chichi ko wo shite gakko ni the father causes his son to 
irashimu enter school 

1 Taking, for simplicity, only one of the possible meanings, 'to 
make', 'cause', 'let', &c. 


Yoritomo Yoshitsune wo shite Yoritomo caused Yoshitsune 

Yoshinaka wo semeshimu to attack Yoshinaka 

Chotei Yoshisada wo meshite the Court summoned Yoshi- 

Kybto ni kaerashimu (kaera- sada back to Kyoto 
shimu = to cause to return) 

Further examples of causative uses are appended, and 
attention is called to the English renderings, which are 
designed to show how many locutions are represented in 
Japanese by this one form. 

yamasato wa hito kosaseji to in the mountain village I do 

omowanedo towaruru koto zo not wish to keep people 

utokunariyuku (ShinKokin.) from coming but visitors 

grow rare 

ware ni eshimeshi yamatsuta the mountain ivy which you 

(M.) (e-shimuru, to cause to gave to me 
have =to give) 

ware ni koe na kikase so let me not hear thy voice 

Okei ni kane wo torasu (Take.) he gave money to Okei 

shidzuka ni jigai sesaseyo to they said : ' Allow us to 
zo moshikeru (HK.) commit suicide quietly ' 

Kisaki wo emasetatematsura- in order to make Her Ma- 
raw tote (HK.) jesty smile 

Genta ni ikitsukasete letting Genta get his breath 

Y orikane mo hiza no fushi wo Yorikane too, having had 
isasete hara kaki kirite use- his knee-joint shot through, 
nikeri disembowelled himself and 


The honorific use of causative forms is now practically 
obsolete, except of course in stereotyped phrases which have 
survived in the modern language ; but in the Heian and 
Kamakura periods su was freely used in an honorific sense. 
Thus : 

miyadzukasa meshite kuda- summoned attendants, and 

mono sakana raesasu (Mak.) partook of fruit and fish 

tsukai ni roku torasesase- he condescended to give the 

tamau messengers a reward 

(Here we have sase with an honorific value attached to a true 
causative, torase-.) 


Fukuhara wo tatase tamaishi when he departed from Fu- 

toki (HK.) kuhara 

shibaraku on kokoro wo shi- deigning to set your mind at 

dzumes&se owashi-mashite rest for a while 


The tendency is always for these honorific terminations to 
lose all or most of their honorific value, and we constantly 
find them reinforced in some way. It will be noticed that 
in the last two examples — from the Heike Monogatari — the 
causative is followed by a purely honorific verb : and this 
is true of all cases where, in that work, a causative form is 
used as an honorific. 

Another method of reinforcing the honorific is by adding 
the passive form, thus : 

araseraruru =aru +su +raruru, meaning simply 'to be' 
and a number of these duplicated forms survive, e. g. irasera- 
ruru, from iru /g 'to be present', oseraruru, 'to say', which 
in modern colloquial have become irassharu, ossharu. The 
common verb nasaru, of which the imperative form nasai 
(nasare) is so familiar, is another example of survival. Other 
forms, such as asobasaruru, kudasaruru, are confined to 
writing or stilted speech. 


or similar aspects of the Verb 

In considering these suffixes it is important to notice that 
they do not serve to define such relatively precise time- 
relations as can be expressed in English. Thus, the suffix 
mu is generally described as a future suffix, but yukamu 
(yukan, yuko) can be translated both 'he will go' and 'he 
will probably go', and even 'he probably goes'. Similarly 
the suffixes tsu and nu are usually described as forming 
a past tense ; but it would be more accurate to say that 
they are, historically at any rate, affirmative suffixes and 
that they are only incidentally tense suffixes. 

These distinctions are best brought out in treating of the 
suffixes separately, but it is interesting to note in a general 
way the lack of precision which characterizes Japanese verbs 
in this respect. The fact that the so-called tense forms 
originally expressed degrees of certainty rather than stages 

B. Past Tense Suffixes : 

C. Future Tense Suffixes 


of time will, I believe, be found by comparative philologists 
to have some bearing upon the affiliations of Japanese. 
For convenience the tense suffixes may be grouped as follows : 

A. Affirmative Suffixes : tsu and tari 


ki and keri 
mu and meri 
A. Affirmative Suffixes. 

1. TSU and TARI. 

The paradigm of tsu is as follows : 
of Simple 
Form Conjn. plus 

Predicative tsu 

Attributive tsuru 

Conjunctive te 

Imperfect (Neg. Base) te 
Perfect tsure 

Imperative te 

yukitsu ~\ 

yukitsuru j Suffixes added to 
yukite \_ yuki, conjunctive 
yukite f form of yuku, ' to 
yukitsure | go'. 
yukiteyo J 

The meaning of this suffix is not easy to explain, but it is 
clear that its primary significance is an affirmative one. It 
signifies that the action or state described by the verb is 
definite and complete, and it may almost be regarded as 
complementary to the negative suffix. However, from the 
affirmative use, where it asserts the definite performance of 
an action or the definite existence of a state or property, it 
is but a short step to asserting the definite completion of an 
action, &c, thence developing a significance of past time. 
The following examples illustrate the earliest uses of tsu : 

kotowari no goto mo arazu it is indeed not in accordance 

aritsu (Res.) 
waga koi wa nagusame kane- 

tsu (M.) 
nao shi negaitsu chitose no 

inochi wo (M.) 
kimi ga mifune no tsuna shi 

toriteba (M.) 
na ga hakeru tachi ni narite 

mo iwaite shi ga mo (M.) 

with reason 

my desire cannot be ap- 

I still do pray for a thousand 
years of life 

if only I had hold of the rope 
of thy boat 

would that I could be the 
sword that thou wearest 
and be girt around thee 


It is evident that any past significance in the foregoing 
examples is purely secondary and derives from the context. 
In the later language, too, it is not unusual to find this suffix 
where there is actually a future meaning. Thus : 

June wo kaeshitsu beshi you will upset the boat 

Here the force of tsu is solely emphatic or affirmative. 

In ordinary modern prose the suffix tsu is almost obsolete 
in all but the conjunctive form te, which has survived and 
developed in so important a manner that it requires separate 

The suffix TE, the Conjunctive Form of TSU. 

Japanese grammarians have been inclined to regard te as 
an independent particle (as can be seen from its inclusion in 
the phrase Te-ni-wo-ha), but there can be no doubt that it 
is simply the conjunctive form of a verbal suffix which has 
assumed special importance. Its uses can all be explained 
as conjunctive uses, in accordance with the definition given 

In the simple conjugation of verbs, we have such uses as 

hana saki tori naku flowers bloom and birds sing 

Making use of the compound conjugation with tsu in its 
conjunctive form, we have 

hana sakite tori naku which may mean either ' flowers 

blooming, birds sing' or 
' flowers having bloomed, 
birds sing'. 

Here again we see that te is not intrinsically a past suffix. 
It has rather a participial use ; but by contrast with the 
conjunctive form of the simple conjugation it may be re- 
garded as indicating a past tense, so that ' having bloomed ' 
is more likely to be a correct translation than 'blooming'. 
The distinction is so fine, however, that to give a decided 
past significance a special locution is often used. E. g. : 

kono ko wo mitsukete nochi After having found this child 

In early and medieval writings te is combined freely with 
other suffixes, making such forms as teshi, teki, tekeri, &c. 


These are not found in ordinary modern prose. There are 
also forms such as teba, temu, tenu, which contain the negative 
base te, and the Imperative form teyo is found, as in 

na norashite-yo (M.) tell me your name 

where there can be no question of tense. 

Typical examples of the earliest uses of te are : 

na okite tsuma wa nashi (K.) apart from thee (lit. 'putting 

thee aside ') I have no mate 

Kasuga no kuni ni kuwa- hearing that in the land of 
shime wo ari to kikite . . . Kasuga there was a lovely 
itado wo oshi hiraki ware maid I pushed open her 
irimashi (K.) door and entered 

Here we have a form which serves a purpose analogous to 
that of a participle in English, but it is not exclusively either 
a past or a present participle. Thus, in the sentence 

ayashigarite yorite miru ni astonished he went up and 
tsutsu no naka hikaritari looked and (saw that) the 

(Take.) inside of the stem was shin- 


the words ayashigarite and yorite might be translated ' being 
astonished' and 'approaching', while the form hikaritari 
itself is (v. tari, below) an elision of hikarite-ari =is, or was, 
shining. The tense depends on the context. 

The following passage illustrates te in three different uses : 

honcho e watarite shinobite crossing over to this country 
Kyo e noborikeru ga Settsu he secretly went up to the 
no kuni Imadzu ni tsukite Capital and he has arrived 
sdro (HK.) at Imadzu in the province 

of Settsu 

In watarite, which might be rendered 'having crossed over', 
we have a perfect tense. In shinobite, 'hiding himself, there 
is an undoubted present participle. In tsukite we have a 
conjunctive use, by which tsuki- is brought into relation with 
an auxiliary verb (viz. sdro). 

A very curious use of te is found in the Nara period, with 
the conjunctive form of the negative suffix zu, in such forms 
as mizute, omowazute. So far as I know there is no other 
declinable verb suffix which thus follows zu. This fact, and 


the freedom with which te combines with adjectives, seem 
to show that te had already in the Nara period an indepen- 
dent character. 

The combination zu-te doubtless gave rise to the negative 
form de, sometimes used as an alternative to zu, as in yukade 
for yukazu. 

The various uses of te may be conveniently summarized 
as follows : 

(1) Suffixed to verbs, it can form a participle, as in 
yukite—' going', or 'having gone'. 

(2) Suffixed to adjectives in their adverbial forms it en- 
ables the adjectives to be used in a participial construction, 
as in 

omoshirokute being amusing 

warukutemo takashi though bad, it is dear 

(3) Suffixed to verbs or adjectives it has formed many 
adverbial phrases, which are now stereotyped, such as kanete, 
subete, sate, tsuite, motte. In the Heian period a number of 
these forms occur which have since become obsolete, e. g. 
gotokute, bekute, and even nadote (=how, or why). It is 
possible that ikade is one of these forms and =ika-te. 

(4) Combined with particles it forms the specialized words 
tote and nite (q.v. under Particles). 

(5) Combined with the auxiliary verb ari it forms tari 
{—te art), which may be regarded as a compound tense suffix. 

TARI. The last-named use (5) of the suffix te soon became 
so frequent as to constitute an independent tense suffix, tari. 
In considering this form, it must be remembered that it is 
parallel with 

seri = shi +ari shi being a causative suffix 

zari = zu +ari zu being a negative suffix 

keri = ki +ari ki being a tense suffix 

meri = ? mu +ari mu being a future tense suffix 

and its conjugation, like theirs, is that of the verb ari, viz. : 

tari as in yukitari 
taru ,, yukitaru hito 
tari ,, yukitarishi 
tar a ,, yukitaramu 
tare „ yukitareba 
3*7° A a 


The meaning of tari in any given context depends upon the 
meaning of the verb ari. It can as a rule be taken to mean 
the persistence (aru) of an act or state which has been com- 
pleted (te), and to that extent may be regarded as forming 
a perfect tense. In such a phrase as nokoritaru yuki, ' the 
remaining snow' — i. e. the snow which is (aru) remaining 
(nokorite) — there is no question of time. Similarly in aretaru 
yado, 'a deserted home', the difference in translation ('-ed' 
for '-ing') represents a difference in voice, not tense, nokoru 
being transitive, areru intransitive. 

Perhaps the best proof that tari does not of itself constitute 
a past tense is the fact that in early writings its imperative 
form is found : thus, torikomete okitare, ' keep it shut up ! ' 

The following further examples will serve to make clear 
the meaning of tari. 

(1) kimi koso wa wasuretaru- you no doubt will have for- 

rarne gotten 

(2) Yasumiko etari (M.) I have got Yasumiko 

(3) Hitomaro nakunaritaredo though Hitomaro has passed 

uta no koto todomareru ka away the art of Poetry re- 
na (Kokin. Pref.) mains 

(4) Yoritomo wa moto wa fu- Yoritomo was formerly fat, 

toritarishi ga . . . kono but . . . through anxiety 

koto wo anzuru hodo ni about this matter he has 

yasetaru zo (HK.) grown thin 

(5) toko ni Okyo no e wo in the alcove there hangs a 

kaketari (Mod.) picture by Okyo 

(6) rakkwa chi ni chirishiki- fallen blossoms are scattered 

tari (Mod.) over the ground 

It is curious to note that in the modern colloquial these 
forms are sometimes resolved into their original elements. 
Thus we have 

Coll. nokotte = nokorite 

,, nokotta = nokorita = nokoritari 
but nokotte aru = nokorite aru = nokoritari 

while sentences (5) and (6) become respectively 

toko ni Okyo no e ga kakete aru 
rakkwa ga chi ni chirishiite aru 

Although in the foregoing account of the suffix tsu and 


its conjugational forms I have emphasized the fact that it 
is not primarily a tense suffix, it will be seen that the com- 
bination with art to form tari does to some extent correspond 
with a perfect tense. Example (3) above illustrates this 
point well, since it contains the two forms tarishi, where the 
suffix shi is added to give a true past sense (futoritarishi =was 
fat), and yasetaru, which can be literally translated 'is (aru) 
grown thin (yasete) '. But, though tari may be considered 
to represent a perfect, it certainly did not function as a 
preterite, being quite distinct from the suffix ki, shi, &c, 
which might be styled a preterite suffix. Yet it is tari which 
has given rise to ta, the modern colloquial preterite. The 
beginnings of the process can no doubt be seen in such 
sentences as : 

neko dono no mairita to wa 
nanigoto zo (HK.) 

what do you mean by saying 
the cat has come ? 

where mairita, in what is evidently a reported colloquial 
sentence, stands for mairitari. There does not seem to be 
any good evidence to show how the change in meaning 
developed, but certainly maitta in modern colloquial means 
'came' as well as 'has come', and the tendency in modern 
prose is to use tari for the past tense. 

2. NU. 

The paradigm is : 


(Neg. Base) 

Suffixes, which are 

added to Conjunctive 

form of Simple 



yukinu \ 

yukinuru Suffixes added 

yukxmshi , • , . 

*.• v yukx, conjunctive 

yukmaba y < ' . * , ,, 

J I form of yuku, to 

yukinure ° ' 
yukine ) 

There is a variety of opinion as to the respective meanings 
of tsu and nu, but the distinctions drawn are very fine and 
not entirely convincing. The two suffixes seem to have been 
used indifferently, even in the earliest known practice, and 
I do not think one can safely say much else than that tsu is 


rather more emphatic than nu. One authority states that 
tsu describes subjectively and nu objectively. It may be so. 

Nu is identified by Japanese grammarians with inu ('to 
go away'), but the grounds for their conjecture are slight. 
There is just as good reason for supposing that we have in 
nu and its forms ni, na, &c, vestiges of an obsolete verb 
nu = 'to be'. 

The meanings of nu in composition tend to bear out this 
supposition. It is, perhaps even more certainly than tsu, not 
primarily a tense suffix but merely one which definitely 
asserts the performance of an act or the existence of a state. 
This sense is best perceived in such examples as the fol- 
lowing : 

(i) na norasane (M.) do tell me your name ! 

(2) machi koinuramu (M.) he will wait and yearn 

(3) tsuki wa henitsutsu (M.) the moon is waning 

(4) mi wa hai to tomo ni udzu- although the body is buried, 

morinuredo (Res.) &c. 

In (1) we have an imperative, in (2) a future, in (3) and 
(4) a present tense. There can be no question of any past 
time significance. It is hardly possible to give in translation 
the exact value of nu under such conditions. Its force can 
sometimes be shown by using such phrases as 'to finish off', 
' to eat up ', where the words ' off ' and ' up ' have an emphatic 
value. In modern colloquial Japanese, forms in nu are 
represented by the word shimau ('to finish') so that, for 
instance, kienu becomes kiete shimau = ' fade away'. Like 
tsu, however, nu tends to acquire an incidental tense signi- 
ficance. This, I think, is partly accounted for by the fact 
that it is an easy transition from regarding an act as posi- 
tively performed to regarding it as completely performed ; 
but the principal reason seems to be that in its early stages 
Japanese has no special apparatus for expressing distinctions 
of time, and this becomes a secondary function of forms 
primarily used for other purposes . In translation into English, 
of course, such distinctions cannot be avoided ; but it must not 
therefore be assumed that they are explicit in the original. 
The argument is not easily illustrated by examples separ- 
ated from their context, but it will probably be agreed by 
any one studying early Japanese texts — especially such nar- 


rative pieces as the Taketori Monogatari and the Tosa Niki — 
that distinctions of time were not uppermost in the writers' 
minds. In such a passage, for example, as 

Te ni uchi irete uchi ni mo- He took her in his hands and 

chite kinu. Me no ouna ni brought her home. He gave 

adzukete yashinawasu. . . . her to his wife to bring up. 

Ito osanakereba ko ni irete As she was very tiny they 

yashinau. . . . Kono ko wo put her in a basket to bring 

mitsukete nochi kogane aru her up. After he had found 

take wo mitsukuru koto kasa- the child, he found bamboos 

narinu. Kakute okina yoyo containing gold time after 

yutaka ni nariyuku (Take.) time, and so the old man 

soon grew rich. 

which is part of a narrative commencing 'once upon a time', 
it cannot be said that, as between the verbs kinu, yashi- 
nawasu, kasanarinu, and nariyuku, there is any difference 
in tense. The use of a term like 'historical present' does 
not remove the difficulty. It merely adds to terminology. 
The fact is that, in the early language at least, Japanese 
verbs are neutral as to tense. On the other hand, their 
variations in form do appear to express degrees of emphasis. 
The forms 

yukamu probably goes 

yuku goes 

yukinu \ , 

yukitsu J ° 

appear to correspond to gradations in the consciousness of 
the speaker, degrees of certainty in his mind as to the com- 
pletion of the act described by the verb. There is a signi- 
ficant parallel in the frequent use of emphatic particles like 
nan, zo, and koso (q.v.), which seem to represent an ascending 
scale of certainty. Nan ( = namu) is probably the ' future ' 
(probability) form of nu, the suffix under discussion, dating 
from a time when nu was an independent verb. It must be 
distinguished from the adverb nan, 'how', or 'what', which 
is a contraction of nani. 

The following examples show characteristic uses of dif- 
ferent forms of nu : 

(i) Predicative, -nu. 
tsuki katabukinu (M.) the moon has gone down 



fuyukomori haru sarikureba 
nakazarishi tori mo kinakinu 
sakazarishi hana mo sakere- 
do (M.) 

(2) Attributive, -nuru. 
hisakata no ame shirashinuru 

kimi (M.) 

(3) Perfect, -nure. 

kono mine wo noborinureba 
san zen sekai no kokyo me no 
mae ni akiraka nari (HK.) 

(4) Imperfect, -na. 
yama koete imashinaba (M.) 

kokoro wo hana ni nasaba 

(5) Conjunctive, -ni. 
tsuki wa henitsutsu 

now that Spring has escaped 
from the clutches of Winter, 
the birds which did not sing 
have come and are singing, 
the flowers which did not 
bloom are blooming, but . . . 

my Lord who doth rule in 

if you ascend this ridge the 
full extent of the Three 
Thousand Worlds is clearly 
visible to the eye 

should you cross and dwell 

over the hills 
if you make the heart a 

flower it will become a 


the moon is waning 

Like te, the conjunctive form ni occurs with other conjuga- 
tional suffixes in such combinations as -nishi, -niki, -nikeri. 
It is even, in the earliest writings, found combined with te 
itself, in such forms as narinite (e. g. narinite arazu ya (M.)) 
and narinitari. 

B. Past Tense Suffixes. KI and KERI. 

The suffix ki, attached to the conjunctive form of verbs, 
is used to denote a past tense. Its paradigm is : 

Suffixes, which are added 


to the Conjunctive form 
of the Simple 






1 Suffixes added 


(Neg. Base) 


— ^ to conjunctive 

— f form of yuku, 
I 'to go'. 



It will be seen that the conjugation is incomplete, and it is 
apparently composite. There is obviously every reason to 
believe that we have here vestiges of the conjugations of two 
distinct suffixes, ki and shi. In the Nara period the following 
forms are found : 

(1) ki in predicative uses, e.g. : 

ante no shita shirashimeshiki he ruled the Kingdom-under- 

(M.) Heaven 

kumogakureniki (M.) he has ascended to Heaven 

yume ni miyeki ya (M.) was it seen in a dream ? 

(2) shi in predicative uses, e. g. : 

wa gafutari neshi (K.) we two slept together 

kogidenishi (M.) they rowed out 

(3) shi in attributive uses, e. g. : 

ai mishi toki (M.) when they met face to face 

kikiteshi hi yori (M.) from the day when I heard 

tsukaematsurimashishi Fuji- the Minister Fujihara who 

ham no bkimi (Res.) did serve (the Emperor) 

nube no yamabuki tare ka who plucked the kerria on 

taorishi (M.) the moor ? 

(4) se as an Imperfect form. 

uketamaubeki mono nariseba since it was a thing to be 

(Res.) received 

hito ni ariseba (K.) as he is a man 

okitsukaze itaku fukiseba (M.) since the sea breeze blew 


amama mo okazu furiniseba since the skies poured with- 

(M.) out ceasing 

It might be suggested that this is a form of the verb sum, 
but there is no positive ground for such a suggestion. More- 
over, the existence of such forms as furiniseba is strong 
argument against it, for there is no other example of ni 
(conjunctive form of nu) in combination with a verb, parti- 
cularly with suru, while it does freely occur with the suffix 
shi in its other forms, e. g. furinishi, furiniki. Possibly the 
suffix shi and the verb suru are cognate, but that is a matter 
of conjecture. 

(5) ke, apparently as an Imperfect or Negative Base J 

1 It never actually is followed by the negative suffix. 


form, occurs, though rarely, in the Nara period in such com- 
binations as makazukeba (N.), kayoikemashi (M.), and it is 
probable that the common form kemu is a combination of 
this form with mu the future, suffix. E. g. : 

inishie ni arikemu hito people who no doubt lived in 

ancient times 
mukashi koso Naniwa to iwa- of old it was, it seems, called 
rekeme Naniwa 

The alternative is to regard keba, kemashi, kemu, &c, as 
contractions of keraba ( = ki +araba), keramashi, keramu, &c. 
(v. below, under KERI). Arguments for this, by analogy 
with such pairs as yokaramu and yokemu, are not convincing. 
Even in verse, yokaramashi does not become yokemashi. 

We may therefore conjecture that the composite conjuga- 
tion shown above can be resolved into two original groups, 
as follows : 

' Imperfect ' or 
Negative Base 

The ' Perfect ' form, shika, is curious. It seems to belong to 
the shi series, but its terminal syllable, ka, has no parallel 
in other perfect forms as recorded. There are, however, 
in existing spoken dialects, cases of perfect forms ending 
in ka. 

Examples of the use of shika occur in the earliest writings : 

kitareri to iishikaba (M.) when they said he had come 

yama ni yukishikaba (M.) when we went to the hills 

shirizoketamae to mbshishika- though we said, Pray with- 

domo (Res.) draw ! 

tsukaematsuru yakko to omo- because We thought him 

hoshite koso kabane mo ta- Our servant We bestowed 

maite osame tamaishika (Res.) a title upon him 

(The last example shows shika standing alone as a perfect 
after koso.) 

There is no direct evidence to show the origin of these 
two suffixes ki and shi ; but it is interesting to note that 
the verb kuru makes predicative forms with shi (viz. kishi 








and koshi), but not with ki, while the verb sum makes the 
predicative form shiki. The meaning of ki seems to indicate 
that it may have a common origin with the verb kuru, and 
shi and suru perhaps constitute a similar pair. 

Later examples of the use of ki, se, and shika are given 
below. The form ke is not found after the Nara period. 

(1) The Predicative form, ki. 

kate tsukite kusa no ne wo our provisions exhausted, we 

kuimono to shiki (Take.) fed on the roots of herbs 

mukashi Karu Daijin to mosu long ago there was a man 

hito ariki (HK.) called Karu Daijin 

(2) The Attributive form, shi. 

wakareshi asa yori (Kokin.) since the morn when we 

sakitaredomo eizeshi hito mo though they (the trees) have 
ima wa nashi (HK.) blossomed, they who sang 

them are no more 

(3) Imperfect form, se. 

Itsuwari no naki yo nariseba if this had been a world with- 

(Kokin.) out falsehood 

This form may be regarded as obsolete. 

(4) The Perfect form, shika. 

kaku koso omoishika (Ise.) so indeed he thought 

shinobite kokoromin to omoi- though he thought of trying 

shikadomo it secretly 

Kiyomori chakunan narishi- Kiyomori succeeded, as he 

kaba sono ato wo tsugu (HK.) was a legitimate son 

There is no trace of a conjunctive form, unless one assumes 
the compound suffix keri to be formed from a conjunctive 
form ki and the verb ari, like tari, which is te +ari, te being 
the conjunctive of tsu. 

KERI has the meaning of its component parts, ki and art, 
and may be regarded as forming a perfect tense, while ki 
alone forms a preterite. But there is often very little dif- 
ference between the two, and keri seems frequently to be 
used in an exclamatory sense, without any significance of 

3*7<> B b 


In the Nara period, an almost complete conjugation is 

found, as follows : 


. keri 


. keru 



Imperfect (Neg. Base) 

. kera 

Perfect .... 

. kere 

The following examples will illustrate these forms 

mata mo awanu mono wa imo 
ni shi arikeri (M.) 
akinikeri wagimo (N.) 

midzu kumashikeru tekona 

are ha kinamu to iikereba (M.) 
nu no he no uhagi suginikera- 

zuya (M.) 

the only one I shall never 
meet again is my mistress 

the dawn has come, my 

the maiden who drew water 

he said I will come, and . . . 
have not the herbs on the 
moor passed away ? 

The forms keramashi, kerashi, and keraku are also found in 
the Nara period, but kera- does not appear in later texts. 

In the Monogatari one can often discern a past tense in 
verbs containing keri. Thus : 

ima wa mukashi Taketori no 
Okina to ieru mono arikeri 

mukashi otoko Musashi no 
kuni made madoi arikikeri 

But in such a passage as 
tokiwa nasu iwaya wa ima 
mo arikeredo sumikeru hito 
zo tsune nakarikeru (M.) 

once upon a time there was 
a man called Taketori no 

once upon a time a man 
went wandering, &c. 

though the long-lasting house 
remains, they who dwelt 
therein are no longer as they 

it is difficult to say what tense, if any, is represented by the 
three verbs with the same suffix, keru. 

The explanations given by Japanese grammarians are by 
no means clear. Yamada (Bumpo-ron) says : 

Keri is frequently used as a substitute for ki, but there is clearly 
a difference between them. Keri not only expresses a retrospect, 
but also it takes the present state of affairs as a starting-point. 
Expressed in terms of etymology, ari places the starting-point in 


the present, and ki expresses a retrospect. It is a case of looking 
at the result and thinking of the cause, of recollecting the past 
and expressing a judgement of the present. 

This may not mean a great deal, but it does at least show 
that the Japanese way of classifying time-relations is peculiar. 

C. Future Tense Suffixes. MU and MERI. 

MU is usually described as forming a future tense, but it is 
more accurate to say that it denotes probability. 
The conjugational forms are : 

Suffixes, added to 

' Imperfect ' form of 

Simple Conjugation 




Imperfect or 
Neg. Base 

Early examples of its use are 

(1) nushi koso . . . tsuma mo- 

taserame (K.) 

(2) ko no ma yori a ga furu 

sode wo imo mitsuramu 
ka (M.) 

(3) trite a ga nemu kono to 

hirakase (M.) 

(4) mukae ka yukamu machi 

ni ka matamu (K.) 

(5) tsukureru ie ni chiyo made 

ni imasamu kimi to are 
mo kayowamu (M.) 

yukamu ") 

yukamu | Suffixes added 
— L to Imperfect 

yukamaji, f form of yuku, 
mashi, &c. | 'to go' 
yukame J 

thou no doubt hast a wife 

I wonder, did my sweetheart 
see between the trees my 
sleeve waved in farewell 

I will enter and sleep. Do 
thou open this door 

shall I go to meet him, shall 
I wait and wait ? 

in the house thou hast built 
where thou wilt dwell for a 
thousand years, I shall meet 
with thee 

It will be seen that this form expresses in (1) conjecture as 
to the present, and in (2) as to the past. In (3) and (4) it 
expresses desire or intention, and in (5) imasamu may be 
regarded as a future. 

It may be inferred from this wide range of meaning that 
mu is cognate with miru, 'to see', and contains the idea of 
'to seem'. In any case, it is clear that one cannot properly 


define mu as a future suffix. Its primary function is to 
denote conjecture, ranging from doubt to probability. 
Naturally the idea of future time is often implicit. 

The modern colloquial 'future' is derived from this suffix, 
by elision of the m sound, which has in Japanese a nasal 
character. The process is : 

yukamu (in which the u is barely pronounced) 

yukan (nasal) 



This last is the modern colloquial form, which has broadly 
speaking the same range of meaning as the earliest forms. 
In modern writing yukan is put for the future, the kana V 
being used. 

MERI has an incomplete conjugation on the model of art, 
as follows : 

Perfect . 

meri as in yukumeri 
meru ,, yukumeru 
meri ,, yukumerishi 



It is doubtless a compound of mu, the future suffix, and art, 
analogous in formation with keri. Or, alternatively, it may 
contain the same element, be, as beshi. 

There is no evidence that it was in use in the Nara period, 
but it is very common in the literature of the Heian period. 
Its origin is not clear, and it is hard to discern in it any 
specialized function. It conveys sometimes the meaning 
'seems to be', but as a rule it has no translateable value. 
I suspect it is a purely literary form. 

The following examples show its use : 

ko wo umamu to suru toki wa when about to give birth to 

o wo sasagete nana tabi ma- 
warite nan umiotosumeru 

Tatsutagawa momiji midarete 

komayaka ni kakitamaumeri 

its young it lifts up its tail, 
turns round seven times, 
and then drops it out 

down the River Tatsuta the 
autumn leaves float helter- 

he writes in fine characters 


Other Future Tense Suffixes 

RAMU and RASH I. These two suffixes indicate a certain 
degree of doubt, as compared with beshi, map, which indicate 
probability or conjecture. But their use is not regular and 
They have the following forms : 

Predicative ramu rashi *| Suffixed to pre- 

Attributive ramu rashiki \ dicative form of 

Perfect rame — J verb 

The following are examples of the use of ramu : 

waga seko wa idzuchi yuku- whither, I wonder, goes my 
ramu (M.) lover ? 

funanori suramu otomera (M.) the maidens who doubtless 

are boating 
kototokoro ni Kaguyahime to in another place there is, it 
iu hito zo owasuramu (Take.) seems, a person called the 

Night Shining Princess 

There can be little doubt that ramu is compounded of aru 
and the future suffix mu. 

Examples of the use of RASHI are : 

kari wa komurashi (K.) it looks as if the geese are 

yo wa fukenurashi (M.) night seems to be falling 

The form rashiki (Perfect) is found in the Nara period, but 
not later. In the later literature, as well as in the modern 
colloquial, rashi is used as if it were an adjective. Thus : 

ame fururashiku omowaru it seems as if it would rain 

kodomo ga kaettarashii it looks as if the children had 

come back 
kodomorashii hito a childish person 

The form subsists in a number of adjectives such as baka- 
rashii, 'foolish', medzurashii, 'strange', where it has a value 
similar to that of the termination — ' ish ' in English. 

BESHI and MAJI. These forms have already been dis- 
cussed under the heading of Auxiliary Adjectives. They are 


both adjectives in form, while in function they are verb 

MASH I expresses approximately the same meanings as mu, 
but with less certainty. It may be regarded as obsolete in 
the modern language. Examples of its use are : 

Urashima no ko ga tamaku- had Urashima not opened 

shige akezu ariseba mata mo the casket we might have 

awamashi met again 

Takayama no iwane shi ma- would I might die, clinging 

kite shinamashi mono wo to the rocky base of Taka- 

(M.) yama . . . 

In the last example and in many other cases mashi appears 
to express a wish rather than an intention. 

In the Nara period only, mashi is found in both predicative 
and attributive forms. It combines with other suffixes to 
make such forms as temashi, kemashi, namashi, corresponding 
to temu, kemu, and namu. It is true that there is a form 
mase, occurring only in the combination maseba, e. g. : 

waga seko to futari mimaseba if I could watch it together 
ikubaku ka kono furu yuki with my lover how joyful 
no ureshikaramashi (M.) would this snowfall be 

This may perhaps be regarded as a trace of an earlier full 
conjugation of mashi, on the lines mase, mashika, corre- 
sponding with se, shika, but this is doubtful. The form 
mashika does not appear until after the Nara period. In 
either case, it can hardly be doubted that all the forms maji, 
mashi, mase, maku contain the element ma which is the 
conjectured imperfect of mu. 

It will be noticed that all the suffixes expressing proba- 
bility have a labial as the initial sound — e. g. mu and be. 

J I is an undeclinable suffix, which may be regarded as the 
negative of mu. See under Negative Suffixes. 


These are two, ZU and JI, the latter being a specialized 
negative future suffix. 
The paradigm of zu is as follows : 




Imperfect or Neg. Base 

Negative Base 

(Imperfect) of 

Verb plus 








Suffixes added 
to Negative 
* Base (' Imper- 
fect ') form of 
yuku, 'to go'. 

It will be noticed that the conjugation is not regular, and 
seems to be composite. All the above forms are found in 
early writings. 

Predicative, zu : 
sakashiku mo arazu (K.) 
yoku mo arazu (N.) 
tachi . . . nukazu to mo (N.) 

na ga koi sezuba (M.) 

Attributive, nu : 
miredo akanu Yoshino no ka- 
wa (M.) 
shiranu michi (M.) 

Conjunctive, zu : 
ametsuchi mo nikumi tama- 

wazu, kimimo sute tamawazu 

shite (Res.) 
yamazu kayowamu (M.) 

omowazu aramu (K.) 

' is not clever ' 

' is not good ' 

' though he does not draw his 

sword ' 
' if thou dost not love ' 

the river Yoshino, on which 

I am never tired of gazing 
an unknown road 

neither hating Heaven and 
Earth nor abandoning his 

without ceasing I will go to 
and fro 

will be unthinking 

Conjunctive, ni. This is obsolete, but there are traces of 
its existence in the earliest part of the Nara period : 

susumu mo shirani shirizoku not knowing how to go for- 
ward, not knowing how to 
draw back 
though I gaze I shall not tire 

mo shirani (Res.) 

miredo akanikemu (M.) 

Perfect, ne : 
tori ni shi araneba (M.) 
me ni shi mieneba (N.) 

since it is not a bird 
since it cannot be seen by the 


It is reasonable to infer from the above examples that there 
originally existed a full conjugation of the negative suffix 
containing the element n, and that it preceded the forms con- 
taining the element z. It should be recollected that the 
negative adjective is na (shi, -ki, -ku). 

There can be little doubt that the N sound is characteristic 
for the expression of the idea ' not ' in Japanese at its earliest 
stages. The form zu can be accounted for by supposing it 
to be n+su, a similar fusion being found in the medieval 
language, where we have such forms as makarazu, a future, 
which can be traced from makaramu-su through the inter- 
mediate stages makaran-su and makaranzu (makaru, a humble 
word for ' to proceed ') . 

J I is undeclinable. Morphologically it is probably a com- 
pound of the negative element n, with the element shi which 
occurs in the suffixes rashi and mashi and denotes possi- 
bility. The meaning of ji will be clear from the following 
examples : 

nakaji to wa na wa iu tomo though you say you will not 

(K.) weep 

into wa wasureji (K.) my lover will not forget 

wakakereba michiyuki shiraji being young, is probably ig- 

(M.) norant of travel 

The forms mu, ji, mashi, and maji constitute two pairs, the 
former expressing a higher degree of probability than the 

Ji is now obsolete in the modern standard colloquial, 
where it has been replaced by the form mai, derived from 
maji. Thus coll. yukumai, 'will probably not go', corre- 
sponds to lit. yukumaji or yukaji. 

The negative forms employed in the modern colloquial 
have in some cases diverged in a curious way from those 
found in both the ancient and modern written languages. 
Perhaps the most important aspect of this divergence is seen 
in the use in speech of the negative adjective nai, which 
always replaces the negative form of the verb aru, 'to be', 
whether predicative (arazu) or attributive (aranu). 

Similarly the ordinary negative form of the present tense 
of all verbs, as used in writing, is often, though not always, 



replaced in speech by a form ending in the negative adjective. 
Thus we have : 

Written form yukanu yukazu 

Spoken forms yukan' yukan' 

yukanai yukanai 

The form yukanai appears to be composed of the verb (yuka, 
neg. base of yuku) + the neg. adj . nai (the colloquial form 
of naki), or it may simply be constructed by analogy with 
nai. In any case, forms like yukanaku, where the negative 
adjective is suffixed to a verb, are not wanting in the earliest 
language, e. g. : 

toki no shiranaku (M.) lit. 'the not-knowing of the time' 
matanaku ni (M.) not waiting 

awanaku mo (M.) even without meeting 

These forms are described fully under 'Substantival Forms 
in -ku', p. 147. 

The above and other common variations of the negative 
may be represented schematically as follows : 

Negative form of : 






nai, sometimes nashi 






naku, arade 

Compound forms 


nakeredo (mo) 






shinai, senu 



shinai, senu 



sezu, shinaku (te) 




yukanu, yukanai 



yukanai, yukanu 



yukazu, yukanaku (te), 
yukade, yukanai de 

Compound forms 


yukaneba, yukanakereba 


yukanedo, yukanakeredo (mo) 


yukanakatta, yukananda 


yukanai daro 

The above table does not pretend to be complete, but it 
suffices to show the main points of difference between written 

3»7° c c 


and spoken forms. Forms like arade, yukade, &c, call for 
some comment. They appear, from the evidence of medieval 
texts, to be contractions of the conjunctive negative forms 
(arazu, yukazu) combined with the conjunctive form, te, of 
the verb-suffix tsu. Examples of their use in early and 
classical texts are : 

kagiri shirazute (M.) not knowing the limit 

hitohi hitoyo omowazute aru- think not that for a single 

ramu mono to omohoshimesu day or night I shall not be 

na (M.) thinking of you 

yo no arisama wa hito wa shi- people not knowing the state 

razute (Take.) of affairs 

The same forms, but with zute contracted to de, are already 
found in the Heian period, e. g. : 

shirade kaku iu (Take.) he says so without knowing 
hodo tokarade (Genji) being not far distant 

The termination nai is preferred in speech to nu, especially 
in the Tokyo district, and the official school readers, which 
adopt the Tokyo speech as standard, usually have, e. g. 
yukanai for yukanu. But it should be noted that verbs 
whose negative base ends in se can take only the termination 
nu, except that the verb suru has both forms, senu and 
shinai. Consequently all polite forms ending in rnasu have 
their negative in nu, e. g. arimasenu, yukimasenu (pronounced 
arimasen, yukimasen), while compounds of suru have nega- 
tives ending in shinai, e. g. jbsen shinai, 'does not embark'. 
Causative verbs, and verbs composed of a Chinese word + 
suru, if they are sufficiently familiar in speech, have collo- 
quial negative forms like 

yukasanai does not cause to go 

ryakusanai does not abbreviate 

In the second example ryaku su, a Chinese word + the 
auxiliary, is so familiar as to be regarded as one word, 
ryakusu, and is therefore sometimes conjugated on the model 
of a causative verb ; but ryaku shinai is equally correct. 

The written language has a negative conditional of the 
type yukazuba, ' if he does not go ' (which sometimes appears 
with an intercalated euphonic m, as in yukazumba) . A con- 


traction of this form is common in the modern spoken 
language, e. g. yukaz'a. 

Conjunctive forms like yukazu are rarely used alone in 
speech. The colloquial prefers to reinforce them either by 
some termination (e. g. yukade=yukazute) or by a particle, 
as in 

mono mo iwazu ni itta he went without saying anything 

where ni would be superfluous in the written language. 
Similarly, to the conjunctive form naku the colloquial prefers 
nakute or nai de : 

minakute mo wakaru I understand even without seeing 

mono mo iwanai de itta he went without saying anything 

In the Western dialects of Japan the negative past tense 
is of the type yukananda instead of yukanakatta, and forms 
like yukazatta are sometimes used. The origin of yukananda 
is not quite clear, but yukazatta is evidently yukazari + the 
colloquial past tense suffix ta (=tari). 

It should be noticed that, in the written language, further 
inflected verb suffixes cannot be added to negative forms in 
zu, and compound conjugational forms of negative verbs can 
be constructed only with the aid of the auxiliary aru. Thus, 
taking the verb yuku, if we wish to construct the future tense 
of its negative form yukazu, we cannot add the future suffix 
mu directly to the negative suffix (which has no negative 
base) and must fall back on the form yukazaru. The para- 
digm of compound forms of a negative verb is therefore as 
follows in the written language of to-day : 

yukazaru {—yukazu +aru) as in yukazaru hito, 'a man who 

does not go ' 
yukazaramu ,, ware yukazaramu, ' I shall 

not go' 
yukazariki ,, kare yukazariki, 'he did 

not go' 
yukazarikeri ,, kare yukazarikeri, ' he did 

not go ' or ' he has not 

yukazarubeshi ,, kikun yukazarubeshi, 'you 

shall not go ' 

In a strict analysis there is a difference of meaning between 


forms of the above type and forms where the negative suffix 
is the final element. Thus : 

yukazarubeshi 'will not-go' or 'must not-go' 
yukubekarazu ' will-not go ' or ' must-not go ' 

and each tends to be appropriated for a special purpose, so 
that yukazarubeshi signifies rather ' will not go ' (future) and 
yukubekarazu, 'must not go'. Similarly : 

yukazaritsu ' has not-gone ' 

yukitarazu ' has-not gone ' 

Of these, the former has fallen out of use, and is replaced 
by yukazariki, 'did not go', while yukitarazu retains the 
meaning of 'has not gone'. Such distinctions are, however, 
rather fine, and are not observed by all writers. The 
tendency throughout the written language is to simplify and 
reduce in number the compound verb forms. Consequently 
the paradigm given above does not include a number of 
forms like yukazaritsu, yukazaramashi, &c, which are found 
in archaic or medieval literature but have since fallen out 
of use. The spoken language goes further, and resorts to 
analytic methods, so that we have 

yukanai daro for yukazaramu 
yukanai datta "] 

yukanai no datta I , .,. 

yukanudeshita f " yukazariki 

yukanakatta J 

itte (=yukite) wa naranu ,, yukubekarazu 

and similar forms throughout. It will be seen that the 
colloquial verb-substantive de aru, in its various forms da, 
daro, datta, &c, is used instead of the agglutinated forms of 
the written language. 


The suffixes described in the foregoing pages are all in- 
flected suffixes. They are either (like su, ru, shimu, tsu, 
nu, Sec.) verbs or vestiges of verbs ; or (like beshi, maji, and 
tashi) adjectives or vestiges thereof. 

There remains to be described an important group of 
uninflected suffixes, with the aid of which certain compound 


conjugational forms of the verb are constructed. These are 
the suffixes BA, DO, and DOMO, and certain other particles 
in specialized uses. They are treated fully in the chapter 
devoted to the particles, but a brief account of them is given 
here in order to complete the description of the compound 
conjugation of the verb. 

I. Suffixes making Conditional or Concessive Forms : 

BA is the surd form taken by the separative particle ha 
(pronounced wa) when it is suffixed to a verb and coalescence 
takes place. Thus yuku ha, 'as for going', is pronounced 
yuku wa, but where ha is suffixed directly to a verb stem, 
as yuke-ha, coalescence takes place, and the form becomes 
yukeba. Ba is used to express a condition, as follows : 

yukaba . . . if he goes (unrealized condition) 
yukeba . . . as he goes (realized condition) 

if he goes (realized or assumed condition) 

It will be seen that when suffixed to the negative base ba 
expresses a hypothetical condition, when suffixed to the per- 
fect form a condition that exists or is assumed to exist. The 
difference is illustrated by the sentences : 

ware shinaba tare ka naku- if I should die, who would 

beki weep ? 

chui seba ayamachi nakaru- if you are careful there will 

beshi be no mistakes 

chichi shinureba ko kawaru when the father dies the son 

chili sureba ayamachi nashi when you are careful there 

are no mistakes 

In the first pair of sentences, by the use of the negative base 
(shina, se) a yet unrealized condition is assumed to come into 
being in the future. In the second pair, by the use of the 
perfect (shinure, sure) a condition is assumed to exist already. 
In the written language the construction illustrated by the 
second pair can often express a condition which actually 
does exist, so that (depending upon context) chui sureba 
ayamachi nashi may mean 'since you are careful there are 
no mistakes'. 

In the ordinary spoken language conditional forms com- 


posed of the negative base + ba are not much used. Con- 
sequently the perfect + ba has to serve all purposes, e. g. : 

chili sureba ayamachi wa na- if you are careful there will 

hard be no mistakes 

chili sureba ayamachi ga nai if you are careful there are 

no mistakes 

In order to express the idea ' since you are careful ' a different 
idiom is generally used in speech, e. g. chili suru kara. 
Generally speaking, the colloquial tends to reinforce the 
conditional form of the verb in some way. Thus we have : 

chili suru to ayamachi ga nai when you take care there 

are, &c. 

chui shitara ayamachi ga na- if you have taken care there 

karb (where shitara= shita- will be, &c. 


chili suru nara (where nara if you take care 


chili sureba koso ayamachi ga it is because you take care 

nai that there are, &c. 

DO is the surd form taken by the particle to when in 
coalescence with a verb. It is often reinforced by the 
particle mo ('even'). It is added to the perfect of verbs, 
to form a concessive, so that 

aredo, aredomo = though there is 
yukedo, yukedomo = though he goes 

The colloquial prefers the use of the word keredomo, which 
is now an independent word meaning 'but'. Historically 
it is a group of suffixes which have become detached from 
the verb, being composed of here (the perfect of the verb 
suffix keri) +do+mo. Examples of its use are : 

aru keredomo nagasugiru there are some but they are 

too long 
yukitai keredomo hima ga nai I want to go but I have no 


Here the written language would have the synthetic forms 
aredomo, yukitakeredomo. 


Other particles used as verb suffixes. 

Most of the particles can in the written language be placed 
after appropriate forms of verbs, to act as conjunctions and 
bring them into relation with other sentences. Details of 
their uses in this respect will be found under the relevant 
headings in the chapter devoted to particles. The following 
are simple examples : 

MO used as a concessive : 

sake aru mo sakana nashi though there is wine there is no 


where mo is added to the substantival form of art. 

WO used as a concessive : 

ame furu wo kasa nashi ni although rain is falling he 
idzu sets forth without umbrella 

where wo is added to the substantival form furu. 

NI used as a concessive : 

hi teru ni ame furu the sun shines and yet it rains 

where ni is added to the substantival form teru. 

These idioms are not much used in the colloquial, but 
attention may be drawn here to a very common locution by 
which ga assumes an adversative meaning. Thus yukitai ga 
hima ga nai, 'I want to go but I have no time'. In speech 
this is the ordinary way of contrasting two propositions, and 
thus ga frequently acts as an adversative particle. 


It has already been shown that causative and passive 
forms, like yukasu and yukaru, are, strictly speaking, inde- 
pendent verbs rather than conjugational varieties of the 
simple verb yuku. Analogous to these passive and causative 
verbs are transitive and intransitive verbs, formed from 
simple verbs by the agglutination of one of the auxiliaries 
suru, aru, and uru. 


They may be divided into three classes, as follows : 

I. Transitive forms of Intransitive verbs. Such are : 

Transitive Intransitive 

tatsuru, ' to set up ' tatsu, ' to stand ' 

susumuru, ' to encourage ' susumu, ' to advance 
watasu, ' to hand over ' wataru, ' to cross over ' 

nokosu, ' to leave ' nokoru, ' to remain ' 

yosuru, ' to bring near ' yoru, ' to approach ' 

II. Intransitive forms of Transitive verbs. E. g. : 

Intransitive Transitive 

kikoyuru, 'to be audible' kiku, 'to hear' 

tokuru, ' to melt ' toku, ' to melt ' 

kudakuru, ' to crumble ' kudaku, ' to crush ' 

miyuru, ' to be visible ' miru, ' to see ' 

III. Transitive and Intransitive forms, both derived from 

an obsolete word or stem. E. g. : 

Transitive Intransitive 

sugusu, ' to exceed ' suguru, ' to be excessive ' 

idasu, ' to put out ' idzuru, ' to go out ' 

sadamuru, 'to fix ' sadamaru, ' to be settled ' 

kayuru, ' to change ' kawaru, ' to change ' 

tasukeru, ' to help ' tasukaru, ' to be relieved ' 

There can be little doubt that the terminations su, uru, and 
aru of the above verbs are the auxiliary verbs, which have 
been added to the stem. It is important, however, to dis- 
tinguish the forms thus constructed from the corresponding 
causative and passive verbs. Thus, while tatsu is 'to stand', 
and tatsuru is ' to set up', tatasu is ' to cause to stand'. The 
difference in meaning is displayed by the examples : 

ie wo tatsuru to erect a house 
hito wo tatasu to cause a man to stand up, 
to let a man stand up 

Similarly, while karu is 'to borrow', kasu is 'to lend', and 
not ' to cause to borrow', which would be karisasuru. Tasu- 
karu is ' to be relieved ', ' to have assistance ', while tasukeraru 
is 'to be helped'. The difference between tasukaru and 
tasukeraru is good evidence that the first form contains only 


aru, the second aru and uru. The distinction between these 
special transitive and intransitive verbs on the one hand, 
and the causative and passive verbs on the other hand, is 
further brought out by the fact that they are never used as 
honorifics. Thus tataru and tatasu may be honorific for tatsu, 
but tatsuru cannot. 

Many of the verbs in which the elements su, uru, and aru 
were plain in the early language have now, especially in 
speech, suffered phonetic change. Thus we have now : 

shirozokeru for shirozokuru, ' to withdraw ' (tr.) 
tateru ,, tatsuru, 'to set up' 







yamuru, ' to stop ' (tr.) 
yosuru, ' to bring near ' 
nosuru, ' to place upon ' 
noburu (intransitive), 'to extend' 
noburu (transitive), 'to extend' 
miyuru, ' to be visible ' 




THESE verbs correspond with the English verbs ' to be ' 
and 'to do ' respectively, but their functions are so dis- 
tinct that they must be treated separately from all other 

I. The Auxiliary Verb ARU. 

It has an irregular simple conjugation, as follows : 

Predicative .... ari as in tamago ari 

Attributive .... aru ,, aru hito 

Conjunctive . . . ari ,, arite, arishi 

'Imperfect' or Negative Base ara ,, arazu, araba 

Perfect .... are ,, areba, aredo 

The conjugation, which has remained unchanged from the 
Nara period, is of the ordinary quadrigrade type, except that 
the predicative form ends in i, not u. 

The meaning of aru is 'to be' in the sense of 'to exist', 
and it is important to understand that aru by itself cannot 
act as a copula between the terms of a proposition. The 
sentence tamago ari means ' there are eggs ' and cannot pos- 
sibly convey the meaning 'they are eggs'. The primary 
significance of aru, then, is to predicate existence of a sub- 
ject. The following are early examples of its use in this 
sense : 

sakashime wo ari to kikashite hearing that there was a wise 

kuwashime wo ari to kika- woman, hearing that there 

shite (K.) was a fair woman 

hana wa utsurou toki ari (M.) there is a time when flowers 


ware yo no naka ni aramu so long as I am in this world 
kagiri wa (M.) 

it ni aru into (M.) my sister who is at home 

In so far as aru is used to predicate existence of any subject 
it is in function a principal and not an auxiliary verb. But 
it can serve as an auxiliary when other states or properties 


of a thing, coupled with the fact of its existence, are pre- 
dicated in a single proposition. When it is desired to 
predicate of a thing some state or property, the verb aru 
can be compounded with an adjective in the conjunctive 
form, e.g. shirokari = shiroku ari, 'is white'. Thus kono 
liana wa shirokari is a proposition which states that the 
attribute of whiteness exists in the case of certain flowers. 
It means 'these flowers are white', but it does not state that 
' these flowers are white and exist ' (in which case ari would 
be a principal verb). Ari may therefore in this usage be 
regarded as an auxiliary verb. 

It is not easy to understand the development of this com- 
pound form ; but I suspect that, if one could analyse the 
mental process by which it was built up, one would find that 
shiroku expressed a substantival concept, so that shiroku ari 
would mean 'there is whiteness'. There is good reason to 
think that the termination -ku of adjectives (and many 
verbs) forms a noun, and this is borne out by the use of the 
conjunctive form of adjectives as a noun in such locutions 
as furuku yori, 'from of old', kono chikaku ni, 'in this 
vicinity'. See, for substantival forms in -ku, p. 147. 

The sentence hana wa shiroshi, where shiroshi is the plain 
predicative form of the adjective, is a simple proposition of 
two terms, where the copula is comprised in the use of wa 
and the predicative form. The sentence hana wa shirokari 
as a logical proposition contains more than two terms, but 
as a grammatical proposition, so far as meaning goes, I do 
not think it can be distinguished from the other. It is more 
rational to suppose that these compounds of an adjective 
with aru grew to supply a need as to form and not as to 
meaning. For, while shiroshi and shirokari may be regarded 
as interchangeable, and shirokari is consequently a redundant 
form, a word like shirokarishi , 'was white', expresses an idea 
which is not within the range of the adjective alone. This 
supposition is strengthened by the fact that predicative forms 
in ku +ari are rare in the early language, while imperfect and 
conjunctive forms (ku +ara and ku +ari) are frequent, as in 
such compounds as okaraba, nagakaramu, nakarikeri, &c. 
The predicative forms are unusual in the modern language 
also. Yoshioka (Taisho Goho) states that in ordinary modern 
prose the predicative, the perfect, and the attributive before 


a noun do not exist. But he quotes examples all the same, 
viz. : 

kai ishi nado okari shells, stones, and so on are plentiful 
yuku hito okarubeshi there will be many going 
okaredomo kakazu though numerous I do not write 


The following are further examples of the use of aru in this 
type of compound. It will be observed that in the earliest 
recorded language elision does not always take place, the 
form being ku ari and not kari : 

kyb no aida wa tanushiku during this day it will be 

arubeshi (M.) joyful 

kurushiku areba (M.) as it is painful 

kanashiku arikemu (M.) it must have been sad 

akakaraba mirubeki mono a thing which could be seen 

(Gosen) if it were light 

kanashikaru hito (Uji) people who are unhappy 

wadzurewasetamau toki mo many were the times when 

okari (Genji) he suffered grief 

An interesting form is nakaru, composed of the negative 
adjective naku +aru. It furnishes material for speculation 
as to why the Japanese language should have special forms 
to express both the affirmative of a negative and the negative 
of an affirmative, nakari and arazu respectively. Nakari 
probably came into use because the negative suffix zu can 
only in rare instances be followed by other verb suffixes. 
Thus, it is not possible to add the past tense suffix hi to 
arazu, in order to make a past tense. The form must be 
arazariki, where aru is intercalated. Consequently nakari, 
to which any verb suffix can be added, is more convenient 
than arazu and at least as convenient as arazari. 

The phonetic changes in these forms compounded of ku 
and aru have been curious. In the earliest texts we find, 
as well as the uncontracted forms, the following marked 
cases of elision : 

i. ku+ara = kara = ka 

2. ku +ara = kara = ke 

3. ku +are = kare = kere 

4. ku +are = kare ■■ ke 


Examples are : 

1. kara becomes ka : 

tokaba (M.) for tokaraba, from toku, 'far', +araba 
yokaba (M.) for yokaraba, from yoku, 'good', +araba 
This is a simple case of elision, of a type common in Japanese. 

2. Aara becomes ke : 

yasukemu (M.) for yasukaramu, from yasuku, 'easy', 

kanashikemu (Res.) for kanashikaramu, from kanashiku, 

'sad', +aramu 
subenakenaku (M.) for subenakaranaku, from subenaku, 

' helpless ' , + aranaku 
nakeba (K.) for nakaraba, from naku, 'not', and araba. 

These forms are difficult to explain by crasis ; and yet it is 
unlikely that they are original forms made by attaching 
suffixes direct to the adjective, without the intercalation of 
am. It seems more probable, for instance, that yasukemu 
is a contraction of yasukaramu under the influence of verb 
forms like arikemu, where the kemu is composed of ke, the 
conjunctive form of the past tense suffix ki, and the future 
suffix mu. 

3. kare becomes here : 

wakakereba (M.) for wakakareba, from wakaku, 'young', 

koishikereba (M.) for koishikareba, from koishiku, 'de- 
sirous', +areba 

This change is easy to understand, for the final e of kare 
influences the preceding vowel a, by a tendency which is 
common in Japanese. The regular 'perfect' form of adjec- 
tives is always of this type, e. g. yokere, and not yokare. 

4. kare becomes ke : 

koishikeba (M.) a further contraction of koishikereba 
tokeba (M.) ,, ,, tokereba 

usukedo (N.) ,, ,, usukeredo 

It will be seen that kaba and keba are not the same, although 
in the modern language they are frequently confused. 
Historically, however, kaba is karaba, and keba is either 


karaba or kereba, two different forms which strictly speaking 
have different meanings. 

The auxiliary verb aru combines freely with adverbs as 
well as with adjectives. The simplest and earliest of such 
combinations are those with shika, 'so', and kaku, 'thus', 
viz. shikaru and kakaru, as in the following examples : 

kakarazu mo kakari mo kami whether it is not thus or is 

no mani mani (M.) thus is as the gods will 

hito mina ka a nomi ya shi- is every one, or only myself, 

karu like this ? 

These two words are now in common use and may be 
regarded as equivalent (in writing) to the English 'such'. 
Thus : 

kakaru toki ni at such a time 

shikari it is so (=yes) 

shikaredomo though it is so (—nevertheless) 

After such adverbial phrases as ika ni, 'how', the auxiliary 
is added to form, e.g. ika ni aru, 'how being' (=what 
sort ?). The contracted form ikanaru, as in ikanaru hito, 
'What sort of man', does not appear until the close of the 
Nara period. The form sari, from sa, 'in that way', does 
not appear in Nara texts, but is common later, as in sari 
tote, sarinagara, meaning 'notwithstanding'. 

The combination of adverbial phrases formed from Chinese 
words by means of the particle to, with the auxiliary aru 
(e. g. dodo to aru becoming dodotaru, from the Sinico-Japanese 
dodo, 1|* ^ 'imposing'), is not found in the Nara period, is 
rare in the Heian period, but is extremely common in modern 
prose (v. under the particle to, an account of forms like tari 
and taru in this usage). This is a natural result of the 
importation of numerous Chinese words which could be made 
to serve as adverbs only by the aid of the particle to and as 
adjectives by means of aru. So we have a regular scheme 
for the utilization of such words, of which a typical example is 

The original Chinese word . . • ££ £ (dodo) 

Japanese adverb . . dodo to, 'imposingly' 

,, adjective . dodo taru hito, ' an imposing person' 
,, verb . . dodo tari, ' is imposing ' 

We now come to what is perhaps the most interesting 


phenomenon in the Japanese language, the methods em- 
ployed to convert the verb aru into a copula. Historically 
there is good reason to suppose that the language in its 
earlier forms, before the period which can be taken as covered 
by the earliest extant writings, was not devoid of a special 
copula. As is pointed out elsewhere (p. 234), the particles 
ni and no are almost certainly vestiges of a copulative verb, 
but by the beginning of the Nara period this form had 
atrophied, thus necessitating the use of other methods. The 
verb aru could already combine with other verbs, as is shown 
by the form woru (now oru)=wi +aru, which (according to 
the general opinion of Japanese grammarians, though there 
is no positive evidence to support them) contains the verb 
wiru, 'to be', in the sense of 'to exist in space', 'to dwell'. 
In a similar way aru combines with what is now regarded 
as the particle ni but is the conjectured conjunctive form of 
the obsolete copula nu, and forms a verb naru, 1 which can 
serve as a link between the two terms of a logical proposition. 
Thus, in Japanese the type of a proposition of two terms is 

kore yarna nari this is a hill 

where nari is the copula. In the proposition 

yama ari there is a hill 

the copula is implicit in the word-order and the special pre- 
dicative form of the verb. 

As a general rule, but not invariably, the first term of 
a proposition where nari serves as copula is distinguished 
by the addition of the particle wa, and it may be argued 
that in practice in the construction of sentences the function 
of this particle is to combine with nari to form a copula 
(v. under Particles, wa, p. 258). 

The following are early examples of the use of nari : 

munashiku okite aru tsukasa it is an office of state left 
ni arazu (Res.) empty 

1 This naru should not be confused with nam formed from ni, as 
a locative particle, and aru, which merely expresses the meaning of 
its separate elements. Thus kawa no soko naru tama (M.), 'a jewel 
which is at the bottom of a stream', where naru = ni aru, 'is at'. 

Further, the verb naru often has the meaning 'to become', as in 
kuraku narimasu, ' it gets dark ' ; but this is probably a semantic 
development of the copula. 


uma naraba (N.) if it is a horse 

kore wa b mi kami no itsuku- this is a thing lovingly be- 
shibi tamaeru mono nari (Res.) stowed by the gods 

The uncontracted form ni ari occurs freely in the Nara 
period, as in the first example. 

The form nite is possibly a contraction of ni arite, but it 
seems more likely that it is formed by the addition of the 
suffix te to the particle ni, at a time when ni retained its 
force as the conjunctive form of a verb (v. under ni, p. 243). 
In either case it is this form nite which has given rise to the 
form de, employed in the colloquial with the verb aru to 
construct a copulative locution corresponding to nam in the 
written language. Thus kore wa yama nari becomes kore wa 
yama nite ari, which gives rise to the colloquial form kore 
wa yama de aru and, by still further contraction, kore wa 
yama da. 

In a proposition of two terms linked by a copula one must 
be in a substantival form. In all such cases nari can serve 
as a copula. Examples of a noun as the first term have been 
given above. We can also have the substantival form of 
verbs and adjectives, as in 

kokoro no asaki nari (M.) it is shallowness of heart 
kaze no fuku nari (M.) it is the blowing of the wind 

but in many cases of this nature there is little to distinguish 
such locutions from the simple predicative statements of the 
type kokoro asashi, 'heart is shallow', or kaze fuku, 'wind 
blows'. They seem to be due to some obscure characteristic 
inherent in Japanese speech which impels those who use it 
to pile one redundant verb upon another. It is a feature 
which will not have escaped the notice of those who listen 
to orations where sentence after sentence ends with some 
phrase like de aru de arimasu, which literally stands for 
'being-is-being-is-is', and can be adequately rendered by the 
one word 'is' in English. In some cases, however, a dif- 
ference of meaning or emphasis can be traced. In 

naku naru tori (M.) birds which are singing 
tadzu wa ima zo naku the cranes are now crying 
nari (M.) 

naru seems to have an emphatic, almost a tense value, as 


insisting upon the fact that the birds are uttering sounds at 
the present moment. In such sentences as 

kamome to miyuru wa shiraho what looks like gulls is the 
no yuku nari (M.) moving of white sails 

the use of nari is easily understood, since shiraho no yuku is 
a substantival phrase. In 

chikyil wa higashi yori nishi the globe revolves from East 
ni mukaite tenkwan suru nari to West 

it is difficult to say that the substitution of tenkwan su for 
tenkwan suru nari would alter the meaning. It marks rather 
a difference in emphasis which might, according to context, 
represent a difference in meaning. The modern colloquial 
has similar variant forms. The above sentence, for instance, 
becomes in speech 

chikyil wa higashi yori nishi ni mukatte tenkwan suru no 

and the difference between this and the alternative tenkwan 
shimasu is hardly more than can be represented in English 
by a difference in stress. 

In the Nara period we find naru following not only, as 
would be expected, the substantival form of verbs, but also 
their predicative forms. Thus : 

nakite koyu nari (M.) they come crying 

and itaku sayagite ari nari (K.), sayageri nari (N.). Here it 
seems likely that the turn of phrases is emphatic, but one 
cannot but suspect that these and many other apparently 
irregular forms are sometimes imposed by the requirements 
of metre. It must be remembered that the earliest texts in 
pure Japanese are very largely in the form of poetry. Two 
results are naturally to be expected. First, that we may 
attach too much importance to examples drawn from these 
sources, and second, that forms may have arisen under the 
influence of verse which could not be accounted for under 
other conditions. It should perhaps be mentioned here that 
similar uses of the predicative form can be found in other 
combinations, such as tsuma tateri miyu (K.), 'the spouse is 
seen standing', where we might expect tateru. 

An important function of the auxiliary verb aru is to 

3270 E e 


provide by fusion with another verb what may be called a 
'progressive present' tense of the latter. The type of such 
combinations is shown by sakeri— saki-ari. The meaning 
conveyed by these ' continuative ' forms is that the state 
predicated by the verb continues to exist at the moment 
of predication. They can often be translated into English 
by 'to be' + a present participle, so that sakeri is rendered 
by 'is blooming'. They are found in the earliest texts : 

ima mo nokoreri (Bussoku) it still remains 

tsuma tateri (K.) the spouse is standing 

nishi no miyama ni taterama- would I were standing on 

ski (M.) the Western hill 

tama ni masarite omoerishi my child that I used to think 

waga ko (M.) more precious than a jewel 

The equivalent forms in the Manyoshu poems which repre- 
sent the Eastern dialect (the Adzuma-uta) are of the type 
furaru for fureru, tataru for tateru, &c. 

These forms are usually confined to verbs of the quadri- 
grade conjunction, but there are some exceptions, such as 

kono a ga keru imo ga koromo this robe of my lover's which 
(M.) I am wearing 

and the auxiliary verb suru often appears in the form sent, 
seri, &c. 

In modern prose forms like sakeri are very common. The 
following are examples of their use : 

tsukue ni sansatsu no yohon there are three books placed 

wo okeri on the table 

(Coll. yohon ga oite aru) 

tsukikage midzu ni utsureri the moon is reflected in the 

(Coll. midzu ni utsutte iru) water 

yama ni kinenhi tateri a monument stands (lit. 'is 

(Coll. kinenhi ga tatete aru) set up ') on the hill 

Strictly speaking, these forms should be derived only from 
verbs of the quadrigrade conjugation, which have a con- 
junctive form ending in i, for it is the combination i +a 
which gives e, as in yomeri from yomi-ari ; but forms such 
as ukeri, hajimeri, &c., are found in practice. 

The following examples are taken from the official school 
' Reader ' issued by the Department of Education : 


hitoe ni sokuryoku wo kisou altogether it has become an 

yo to wa nareri age of competition in speed 

ware ni masareru hito wo ne- to envy those who are supe- 

tamu koto rior to us 

gyofu wa mina kono ni-son the fishermen all live in 

ni sumeri these two villages 

A form parallel to sakeri is sakitari, which is often used with 
approximately the same meaning. The termination tari has 
already been discussed under the heading devoted to the 
verb suffix tsu, and its conjunctive form te. It is important 
to distinguish this -tari iromtari=to +ari, mentioned above. 
The tari which is a combination of te +ari is a verb suffix, 
used as follows : 

imoto wa ima hanare nite koto my sister is now playing the 
wo hikitari harp in the annexe 

(Coll. koto wo hiite iru) 
rakkwa chi ni chirishikitari fallen blossoms are scattered 

over the ground 

Sometimes it is difficult to say whether these forms in tari 
should be treated as indicating a ' progressive present ' tense 
or a perfect tense. Thus in 

kenji no shoku ni aru mata persons who are or have been 
wa aritaru mono in the post of Procurator 

aritaru must be regarded as a perfect tense. But it will often 
be found that tari is affixed to verbs other than those of the 
quadrigrade conjugation to make forms very similar in 
meaning to those ending in eri. Thus : 

toko ni juku wo kaketari a scroll hangs (lit. 'is hung') 

in the alcove 

which would in colloquial be juku ga kakete aru. This is 
a progressive present tense, equivalent to kakeri, yomeri, &c. 
But it is easy to see that in some contexts it would be best 
translated by a perfect tense in English. Where there are 
two forms, as sakeri and sakitari, they naturally tend to 
have different meanings, such as 'is blooming' and 'has 
There is a curious tendency in the modern written language 


to resolve these forms into their original elements, and to 
put, for example, 

yosho wo oki ari for yosho wo okeri 
sho wo yomi oreri ,, sho wo yomeri 
koto wo hiki oreri ,, koto wo hikitari 

These are quite recent developments. The form oreri is not 
found in archaic or classical Japanese. 

The auxiliary verb ari enters into combination with most 
verb suffixes, as follows : 

Affirmative suffix tsu(te) +ari . . tari 

Negative suffix zu + ari . . . . zari 

Causative suffix su +ari . . . seri 

Tense suffix ki +ari .... keri 

Tense suffix mu +ari . . . meri 

Tense suffix beku +ari .... bekari 

Tense suffix majiku +ari . . . majikari 

These do not require special treatment, as their significance 
follows naturally from their composition, but the following 
notes describe special features of some of them. 

TARI has just been described, and will be found also treated 
under the suffix tsu, p. 177. 

SERI occurs in early texts, e. g. : 

wa ga tatasereba (K.) since I am standing 

tsuma motaserame (K.) probably has a mate 

waga kimi no obaseru mi the august girdle which my 
obi (N.) lord is wearing 

Here tatasu is honorific for tatsu, 'to stand', and tatasereba = 
tatashi areba. Similarly motasu is honorific for motsu, and 
motaserame —motashi arame—' will be holding'. Obasu is 
the honorific form of obu, 'to wear as a girdle'. 

It will be seen that such forms are not essentially different 
from those of the type sakeri just described. They are 
merely ' progressive present ' forms of honorific or causative 
verbs. An example from modern prose is : 

gunkan wa . . . itaru tokoro the warships cause the na- 
ni kokko wo kagayakaseri tional brilliance to shine in 

every place 


When seri stands alone it is simply a compound of the verb 
suru, acting as a principal verb, with the auxiliary ari. Thus : 

mitabi seri (Res.) has done (it) three times 
funade seri (M.) is sailing forth 

It will be found that seri sometimes has a past or perfect 
tense significance. Thus : 

niju-yo nen kinzoku seri he has served continuously 

for more than twenty years 
genan no mama ni ketsugi they decided in accordance 
seri with the original draft 

It will be seen that these forms have a tense significance 
rather like that of the French perfect, e. g. seri— 'il a fait'. 
Similarly yukeri, and even more often yukitari, are equivalent 
to 'il est alle'. 

ZARI. Early examples are : 

awazaredomo (M.) though he does not meet 
miezaranu (M.) is not unseen 

Although in early texts there are examples of the conjunctive 
form (ni) of the negative of verbs, followed by tense suffixes 
(e. g. akanikemu, 'will be unwearied'), the conjunctive form 
zu does not form such combinations. Consequently, when 
it is desired to put a verb like yukazu, 'does not go', into 
future, past or similar forms, it must be done by means of 
the auxiliary aru, just as in the case of adjectives the com- 
pound conjugation is constructed by the same means, e. g. 
waruku, warukarishi, warukaramu. Thus we have a negative 
conjugation built up from yukazari , showing forms like yuka- 
zarishi, yukazareba, yukazaramu, &c. It follows that zari is 
in very common use. In early texts there are uncompounded 
forms, as arazu aritsu (Res.), lit. 'was not-being', for 'was 
not ', but in later writings, down to the present day, zari with 
its derivatives is always used. Details and examples have 
already been given under the heading of Negative Suffixes. 
There existed in early and classical Japanese certain com- 
pound forms of the auxiliary verb reserved for special uses, 
honorific or humble. These were, in addition to the verb oru 
mentioned above, haberu, imazokaru or imasukaru. They are 
obsolete except that haberu lingers in the epistolary style. 


Imasukaru, with its various forms, is said to be derived from 
i, masu, and aru, three verbs each meaning 'to be'. It is an 
honorific, while haberu, supposed to be hau, ' to crawl ', +aru, 
is humble. Examples of the use of these curious forms are : 

onore ga moto ni medetaki koto in my home there is a lovely 

haberi (Mak.) * harp 

kaku hakanakute imasuka- whereas he seemed to be so 

meru wo (Yamato) unfortunate 

II. The Auxiliary Verb SURU. 

Its simple conjugation is : 

Predicative . . . . . su 


' Imperfect ' or Negative Base 


Perfect .... 


The meaning of suru is approximately 'to do'. It presents 
the idea of action, but so vaguely that a complete idea can 
hardly be expressed by its means without the aid of other 
words. It resembles the French verb faire. It is thus 
essentially an auxiliary, and cannot stand alone as one of the 
two terms of a simple proposition. In this respect it differs 
from aru which in the sense ' to exist ' can be so employed. 

For convenience of description one may take the cases 
where suru is associated respectively with (i) substantives, 
(2) adverbs, (3) particles. 

(1) With substantives. The typical case is represented by 
such combinations as maisuru (K.), to dance, and koesuru 
(M.), to cry. It is a development of this use which has 
enabled the Japanese language to assimilate a large number 
of Chinese words, and to convert them into verbs where 
necessary. The earliest examples of this device are such as 
meizuru (fa), to command, anzuru (|j|), to consider, where 
the Chinese words, or rather approximate Japanese pro- 
nunciations thereof, are compounded with suru. These are 
posterior to the Nara period. Such forms would naturally 
not occur in the Manyoshu or other poetical works, nor are 
they to be found in other texts of the period. 

A curious phenomenon, which may be mentioned here, is 
the formation of compounds from pure Japanese words which 


are assimilated in sound to the Sinico- Japanese forms. Thus 
we have a verb karonzuru, 'to esteem lightly', from the 
adjective karoki, 'light', presumably through the verb form 
karomi. Other examples are unzuru, ' to tire', from umi {$£), 
omonzuru, 'to prize', from omoki, 'heavy', through omomi. 

A number of Chinese words have thus been completely 
absorbed, as, for example, zonzuru (fc), 'to know', which 
has, from the Heian period, been so fully naturalized as to 
have lost most of its meaning and become often a mere 
formula in the epistolary style. 

As the influence of Chinese increased and the borrowing of 
Chinese words progressed, the verb suru was freely employed 
to convert Chinese words from substantival to predicative 
uses — from nouns to verbs ; or, more accurately, to give to 
the uninfected Chinese words, which in Chinese can function 
indifferently as noun or verb, the special form required by a 
verb in Japanese. Thus fjij} ron, in Chinese can signify either 
'argument' or 'to argue'. To convert it into a Japanese 
verb the form ronzuru is constructed. It is this process, 
extended to compound Chinese words, which has given to 
modern Japanese a large proportion of its verbs. Charac- 
teristic examples are : 

chaku suru, 'to arrive', from chaku ^f 'arrival' 
giron suru, 'to discuss', from giron p|| f^ 'discussion' 
josen suru, 'to embark', from jo f(| 'to mount', sen #& 
' ship ' 

It is interesting to notice that modern Japanese, when 
borrowing from European languages, resorts to the same 
device in order to give the borrowed word the form of a verb, 
and this even if the word borrowed is already a verb in its 
own language. Thus, to take examples from the field of 
romance, where the native vocabulary was inadequate, 
dansu suru, 'to dance', kissu suru, 'to kiss', and rabu suru, 
'to love'. Of sterner provenance we have such verbs as 
supeshiyaraizu suru, 'to specialize'. 

Even in the earliest texts, though combinations of a sub- 
stantive and suru occur freely without the intercalation of 
a particle (i. e. combinations of the type maisuru), there are 
many instances where the two elements are separated by 
a particle such as wo or wa. Thus : 


mai wa semu (M.) I will dance 

ikusa wo shite (Res.) making war 

kadode wo sureba (M.) as he sets forth 

In such cases suru approaches in function to a principal verb, 
the substantive and the verb each retaining a separate 
meaning and not completely fusing into one verb form. The 
difference in form of such locutions is accompanied by a slight 
difference in meaning, a nuance which it is easier to perceive 
than to define. 

Under this heading (of association with substantives) may 
be included such forms as 

omoku suru, to prize, to attach weight to 

where omoku is the conjunctive form of an adjective, in a 
substantival use. This is analogous to the conjunctive form 
of a verb in such combinations as horisuru, 'to desire', which 
has given rise to the modern verb hossuru, and shinisuru, 
'to die', karesuru, 'to wither', &c, which are obsolete. 

It is interesting to note that in early Japanese such verbs 
were formed freely. Examples are : 

From adjectives : mattaku suru, mattb suru, to complete 
takaku suru, takbsuru, to heighten 

From verbs : shinisuru, &c. 

This method can be regarded as now obsolete. A parallel 
tendency is shown in English. ' To blacken ' is a stereotyped 
form, whereas to 'bluen' would not be permissible. 

(2) With adverbs. Cases of direct association are kaku- 
suru, kakushite, shikasuru, shikashite, and the colloquial 
shikashi, meaning 'however', sasuru, sashite, &c. These are 

(3) With particles. Instances have just been given where 
the substantival form which is, so to speak, governed by suru 
is signalized by one of the particles wo or wa. The adverbial 
particles such as nomi, koso, &c, can naturally be employed 
in a similar way, as in 

iwade kokoro ni omoi koso without speaking, in his heart 
sure he indeed thinks so 

Such locutions are easily understood. A much more difficult 
subject, however, is the combination of the particles to and 
ni with suru. If we examine the following phrases : 


katsura ni subeku nari (M.) it should be made into a garland 
iitsugi ni semu (M.) will make (it) a messenger 

there is not much doubt as to the value of suru, in these 
contexts. But in 

yo no hito ni shite (M.) being a person of the world 

6 omi to shite tsukaematsuri- served as a minister of state 
shi (Res.) 

it will be seen that suru, far from representing the idea of 
an act, conveys rather the idea of a state, and approximates 
in meaning to aru, 'to be'. 

It is this similarity between the two auxiliary verbs, 
amounting in many cases to interchangeability, which pro- 
vides a key to many apparent anomalies in the use of suru. 
It seems that while the maximum significance of aru is 'to 
exist', and the maximum significance of suru is 'to do', 
there is as it were a territory which the two verbs share, 
a common meaning which in translation can be represented 
by a copula. Thus if we take the two propositions 

(1) Kb wa otsu tari (=to ari)\ _ » . R x 

(2) Kb wa otsu to su J ~~ 

the first may be taken to mean that A exists as B, the second 
that A behaves as B. The greatest common measure of 
meaning here is 'A is as B'. I do not of course suggest that 
the interchangeability arose through a logical process which 
could be so precisely formulated. Indeed it is remarkable 
that the development should have taken place at all, since 
it does not appear to have been caused by any specific 
requirement in the language. 

The idiom under discussion occurs in the earliest texts. 
Cf. the examples given above, and : 

hito to shite omowazu aru wa there is nobody who being 
arazu (Res.) a man does not think 

kokoro nomi imo gari yarite a only my heart goes to my 
wa koko ni shite (M.) lover, I myself being here 

A detailed account of the uses of such combinations as to 
suru, ni suru, to shite, nishite, &c, will be found under the 

1 In Chinese and Japanese the characters ^ (ko), "£. (otsu), j^J 
(hei), &c, are employed for purposes of enumeration, as we use A, 
B, C, &c. 

3*70 F £ 


sections devoted to to and ni. I confine myself here to 
showing schematically the correspondence both formal and 
functional between the two verbs : 



sasureba (sa=thus) 
sa shinagara 




= this being so 
= nevertheless 
= whilst, however 

to su 


= nevertheless 

= is 

ni shite 

to arite 

ni arite, nite 

= being 
= being 

Each member of one of the above pairs may be regarded as 
equivalent in meaning to the other member. The forms 
shikashi, shikashite, and shikashinagara in the modern lan- 
guage are commoner than the compounds with ari. Shika- 
shi, indeed, is now in the spoken language the equivalent 
of 'however'. 

The case of to shite is also interesting, since it has actually 
displaced its formal equivalent to arite ; as, moreover, ni shite 
has displaced ni arite (but not nite) . If we take the sentences 
Tard wa otoko nari Taro is a man 
Hana wa onna nari Hana is a woman 
and wish to make of them one sentence, by using the conjunc- 
tive form of the first verb, we find that this conjunctive form is 
not used under such circumstances. Instead of Taro wa otoko 
ni arite, &c, one of the following substitutes is employed : 
Taro wa otoko nite Hana wa onna nari 
Taro wa otoko nishite Hana wa onna nari 
Similarly with to shite ; though this form does not occur in 
the earliest texts, and the corresponding form tarite is also 
absent in the Nara period. In the modern language, how- 
ever, to su and to shite are freely used. Thus : 
ima gojin no shugan to suru my main object at present is 
tokoro wa jitsu ni bumpd- actually the study of gram- 
gaku nari to su mar 

where shugan to suru tokoro =' that which is the main 
object', and nari to su is a pleonastic expression meaning 
simply 'is'. In legal language the words to su can usually 
be translated by 'is' or 'shall be'. Thus : 


kocho no hbkyu wa kokko no the salary of the Director is 
futan to su a charge upon the Ex- 


shi wa hdjin to su the Municipality shall be a 

juridical person 

In such sentences as 

haru no hana nioi sukunaku there being but little scent 

shite to Spring flowers 

Miyako nite umaretarishi on- a woman born at the Capital 

na koko ni shite niwaka ni having suddenly died while 

usenishikaba (Tosa) she was in this place . . . 

shite may be regarded as a formal substitute for arite. In 
many cases, however, shite merely serves as a conjunctive 
form of verbs and adjectives, and cannot be regarded as 
replaceable by arite. Thus : 

wakakushite kashikoshi he is young and wise (lit. ' being 

young is wise ') 
kotaezu shite kaeritari he went back without replying 

It is to be noted that the correspondence in these cases 
does not extend to the compound conjugation. Thus we 
have shiroku shite rather than shirokarite, but there are no 
forms like shirokuseshi , shirokusezu to correspond with shiro- 
karishi, shirokarazu. 

In describing the interchangeability of aru and suru I have 
naturally paid attention to their resemblance ; but it need 
not be assumed that these involve a constant and exact 
equivalency. Where two forms exist side by side with almost 
identical meaning they generally develop some difference of 
emphasis if not of significance. 

The correspondence between aru and suru is further ex- 
emplified by the use of honorific verbs containing the element 
su, analogous to the verbs haberu, imazokaru, &c. These are 
the verbs mesu, masu, imasu, and owasu. Both mesu and 
masu appear in the Nara period : 

waga seko ga kaerikimasamu the time when my lover shall 

toki (M.) return 

yorodzuyo ni imashi tamaite existing in all ages 


omooshi mesu na (M.) pray do not think 


The verb owasu first appears in the Heian period. 


meaning is the same as that of aru or oru, except that it 
has an honorific value, and it is probably derived from some 
such combination of masu as omasu, where o also is honorific. 
Examples of its use are : 
yonaka made nan owaseshi he was there until midnight 

natane no okisa nite owaseshi she was of the size of a rape 

(Take.) seed 

Ten ni mashimasu waga chi- our Father which art in 

chi Heaven 

While owasu is obsolete, and mesu persists chiefly in such con- 
ventional compounds as oboshimesu, 'to think', the form 
masu continues to play an important part in the spoken 
language, in the ordinary polite forms of verbs such as ari- 
masu, gozaimasu, which are honorific forms of aru, and 
yukimasu, where, attached to the conjunctive form of a 
principal verb, masu is simply an honorific suffix. 

Reviewing the above account of the auxiliary verbs, we 
see that while the early (pre-Nara) language appears to have 
had a copula, it became obsolete and was replaced not by 
one but by many locutions. Setting these forth in tabular 
form we have : 


Archaic and , A ., 

Medieval Written Colloquial 

ni an 





to su 

to su 








nite ari 


nite gozaru 

de aru, da 
de arimasu 
de gozaru 
de gozarimasu 
de gozaimasu 
desu • 
1 The above does not exhaust the list of honorific combinations 



(1) The honorific and humble verbs just mentioned may 
be regarded as auxiliary verbs. Thus, in kashi tamae, ' deign 
to lend', and tabete kudasai, 'condescend to eat', tamae and 
kudasai are functionally the equivalent of imperative ter- 
minations of the principal verb. Similarly in on sasshi 
moshimasu, 'I respectfully sympathize', moshimasu (mosu) 
has no longer its usual meaning of 'to speak humbly' but 
is simply a humble auxiliary. 

(2) The verb uru which, as a principal verb means 'to 
get', serves as an auxiliary in the sense of 'to be able'. 
There is little doubt that the potential forms of verbs, such 
as yukaruru, ' to be able to go ', contain the verb uru, and if 
we examine such pairs as tatsu, 'to stand' (intransitive), and 
tatsuru, 'to stand' (transitive), we see that uru is a hardly 
concealed auxiliary in the transitive form. 

In the medieval and later languages we find such forms 
as e-nomazu, 'is unable to drink', where e is the conjunctive 
of uru. In some dialects the ordinary potential is replaced 
by forms of the type yukiezu, 'cannot go', where again ezu 
is an auxiliary. There is also a verb kaneru or kanuru, 
meaning 'to be unable', used as an auxiliary in such com- 
pounds as yukikaneru, 'to be unable to go'. It is not found 
in the early language, but in the Nara period there occurs 
a verb hate-, as in 

hito-kuni ni sugikatenu (M.) cannot pass into a strange 


nagaji wa yukikatenu (M.) cannot go a long way 
The conclusive form is scarce, but appears to be katsu, as in 
yukikatsumaji (M.). It is probable that this verb is cognate 
with katashi, 'hard', and kaneru may be related to it. 

Another auxiliary verb used to form a potential is atau, 
found as a rule only in the negative, as in yukiatawazu, 
'cannot go'. 

(3) Some Japanese grammarians distinguish an auxiliary 
or verb suffix au, in such words as katarau, sumau, utsurou, 

meaning 'to be'. There are forms like mashimasu, owashimasn, 
irassharu, and verbs like tamau, samurau, &c, in which the honorific 
value has suppressed all other meaning, so that they act merely as 


&c. Thus kataru is 'to talk', while katarau is 'to remain in 
converse ', sumu is ' to stop ' while sumau is ' to dwell ', utsuru 
'to change', and utsurou 'to fade'. The suffix is stated to 
denote the continuance of the action described by the verb. 
It is true that a large number of pairs of this type can be 
found in the Nara period, but they are already stereotyped, 
and it can hardly be said that au is now a verb suffix, or an 
auxiliary, comparable with, say, su. Its existence should, 
however, not be overlooked when endeavouring to fix the 
earliest forms of verbs. Thus negau, ' to pray ', has an earlier 
form negu, and tamau is undoubtedly derived from tabu. 
(Cf . tsutometabubeshi , tasukematsuritabu, forms very common 
in the Rescripts.) 


THE Particles are the most characteristic group of words 
in Japanese, and they are essential to the formation of 
any proposition containing more than the simplest elements. 
As might be expected, therefore, their uses are various and 
idiomatic, and must be fully mastered before the structure 
of the language can be understood. 

Their classification presents some difficulty, and it seems 
that few native grammarians are in accord on this question. 
The traditional method was to include the particles in a large 
group called Teniwoha, but the members of the group have 
no common characteristics. 

An examination of the particles shows that they fall 
naturally into two main divisions, according to their func- 
tions, namely : 

(i) those which affect only component parts of a sentence, 

(2) those which affect a sentence as a whole. 
Thus, in the sentence 

yama no ue yori kawa wo to see a river from the top of 
mint a hill 

the particles in Roman type concern only the single words to 
which they are affixed. This is clear from the fact that if 
any one particle is removed, the word to which it is affixed 
must logically be removed at the same time ; and this process 
can be continued until there is nothing left but the simplest 
elements of a grammatical proposition, subject and predicate. 
On the other hand, in such a sentence as 

ware wa sono hito no na dani I do not know even his name 


the particles in Roman type can be removed without neces- 
sitating the removal of other words, but with a change in 
the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

The classification is a convenient one, even if it cannot be 
supported on logical grounds. On the one hand we have the 

, V{\\\Al MACih 




particles ga, ni, no, to, wo, he, made, and yori, and on the 
other hand all the remaining particles. The members of 
the first group are affixed exclusively to substantives or to 
groups of words acting as substantives, and their function 
is that which in other languages is usually performed by 
inflexion or by prepositions and postpositions — the designa- 
tion of Case. They may, therefore, without serious abuse of 
terms be called Case Particles. 

The remaining group is certainly not homogeneous, but 
its members have one character in common. Their presence 
is not essential to the formation of a sentence, but serves to 
modify its purport. This, in the case of principal words, as 
opposed to particles, is precisely the function of an adverb, 
and in a general way the members of the group in question 
may be fairly described as Adverbial Particles. 

From this general classification one might exclude the 
Interrogative Particles, but there does not seem to be suffi- 
cient reason for so doing, since the object of classification is 
secured if groups of manageable size are distinguished. 

We therefore have two categories of particles : (i) Case 
Particles ; (2) Adverbial Particles. 

An anomaly does, it is true, obtrude itself in the suffixes 
ba, do, domo, &c. Strictly speaking, these are the particles 
wa and to in special forms, and it is possible to treat them 
as such by paying elaborate attention to their sense develop- 
ment. But their functions, when they appear in this form, 
are so specialized that it would be pedantic as well as incon- 
venient to refuse them special treatment, and they are there- 
fore separately classified below as (3) Conjunctive Particles. 


These are the particles no, tsu, ga, wo, ni, to, he, yori, and 

made. Their several uses are described below, but it must 
be realized that the nominative and accusative cases can be 
shown without the use of particles, and when particles are 
affixed to words which are syntactically in those cases, they 
do not form the case, but merely indicate it. Thus the 

ware yukan I will go 
maw kono uta no kaeshi sen I will make a reply to this 



are complete as they stand, though they contain no particle 
to indicate nominative or accusative. Strictly speaking, 
neither wa nor ga, as will be shown later, even indicates the 
nominative, and it may be said that modern Japanese has 
no exclusive means of indicating this case, other than by 
position. It will be seen, however, that certain specialized 
uses of ga and wa constitute an attempt by the language to 
single out, if not the grammatical subject of a sentence, at 
least the subject of a logical proposition. 

NO may be defined as a genitive particle, but its employment 
can be better understood if it is regarded as establishing an 
attributive rather than a possessive or partitive relation 
between two words. In one of its simplest and earliest uses 
it forms demonstrative adjectives from pronouns — kono, 
kano, ano, sono ; and in such a phrase as kono hito, 'this 
man ', there is clearly no possessive, but only an attributive 
relation between ko (='here') and hito. In waga, soga, &c., 
on the other hand, there is a definite possessive sense, for 
these words mean 'my', 'thy', &c. To take a very early 
example, the following occurs in the Toshigohi (Prayer for 
Harvest) Ritual : 

yatsuka ho no ikashi ho many-bundled and luxuriant ears 

where it is quite clear that no does not mean 'of, but relates 
yatsuka ho to ikashi ho, as the translation shows. 

Regarded in this way the significance of no in such locu- 
tions as the following becomes much clearer : 

yaso no shima (M.) eighty isles 

jilyen no kogitte a cheque for ten yen , 

futatsu no michi two roads 

kami no yashiro the upper shrine 

tsuki no yo a moonlight night 

This use of no is, of course, parallel with that of the preposi- 
tion 'of in English, in such phrases as 'a child of three', 
'a man of sense', 'a night of terror' ; but in English it is 
restricted, in Japanese widely extended. Nor is the analogy 
sufficient to explain such forms as 

omoshiro no monogatari an interesting tale 

iigai-na no koto a thing not worth speaking of 

3*70 G g 



where we have no affixed to an adjectival stem. Here the 
effect of no is to give the adjective its attributive value, 
exactly as if it were the regular attributive inflexion, in 
omoshiroki monogatari, iigai naki koto. 
The attributive force of no is further exemplified in 

Yamato no kuni (M.) the land of Yamato 

Kusanagi no tachi (K.) the grass-quelling sword 
itazura no Saburo the naughty Saburo 

Here indeed there is no trace of a possessive relation. The 
meanings are ' the land that is Yamato ', &c, and the particle 
even points out an identity, rather than an attribute, very 
much as in the English idioms, 'her fool of a husband', 'the 
county of Kent'. But here again the Japanese use is much 
more widely extended than the English. 
Further illustrations of this type are : 

ani no Yoshitaro Yoshitaro, his elder brother 

chichi no Dainagon her father, the Counsellor 

haru no kagiri no kyb no hi to-day, the last day of Spring 

This use of no, by which one word is brought into an attri- 
butive relation with another, can serve to convert almost 
any part of speech into an adjective. Thus : 

hidari no te the left hand 

makoto no kotoba true words 

mukashi no tera ancient temples 

saikin no tokei recent statistics 

umitate no tamago new-laid eggs 

wadzuka no koto a trifling thing 

kanete no negai a previous request 

A construction which is similar to those just described, but 
somewhat elliptical, is found in 

tsuyu no inochi (M.) a life fleeting as the dew 

hana no kanbase tsuki no a flower-like face, moon-like 

mayu eye-brows 

yuku midzu no hayaku fast as running water 

These may perhaps be compared with such English colloquial 
expressions as 'a devil of a business', 'a dream of a hat', 
which one may suppose to mean 'a devilish business', 'a 
dreamlike hat'. 



The foregoing examples have shown no acting as a link 
between two simple substantival forms. It can in addition 
be attached to clauses or sentences, which for this purpose 
are treated as substantival groups. Thus : 

yukan no kokoro 

kuru hito nashi no yado 

chichi kawarite haha hitotsu 

no kyodai 
matsu hito no kon ya koji ya 

no sadame nakereba 

jippi wo mite mairaseyo no 

on tsukai 
kainin nanatsuki no onna 

sanbyaku nin 
Heike monogatari ni tsukite no 

yukite no nochi 

a mind to go 

a lodging where no man 

brothers with the same 

mother and a different father 
it being uncertain whether he 

whom I await will come or 

a messenger to go and find 

out the truth 
three hundred women seven 

months gone with child 
inquiry into the Heike Mono- 
after having gone 

In the above cases the function of no is to connect two sub- 
stantival forms, the first of which is a group of words, and 
the second a simple substantive or its equivalent. It can 
also link up two such forms when the second is a word, or 
a group of words, acting as a substantive, thus : 

hito no kuru 

hito no tabi ni yuku 

which literally can be translated 'a person's coming', 'a per- 
son's going on a journey '. But, because the relation between 
hito and kuru, hito and yuku is not so much possessive as 
attributive, such phrases in Japanese tend to be regarded 
as complete statements, corresponding not so much to 'a 
person's coming' as to 'a person comes'. 

This tendency is even more marked in the case of the other 
genitive particle, ga. The sentence hito ga kuru is the usual 
equivalent of 'a person comes' in the modern colloquial. It 
is difficult to trace the process by which these usages have 
developed. They go back to a stage of language where there 1 
is incomplete differentiation between substantive and verb. 
In the early language we frequently meet (especially in 


poetry) sentences which are in form exclamations rather than 
assertions, such as : 

sumera mikoto no nori tamai- lit. 'the Sovereign's saying' 

shiku (Res.) = 'the Sovereign said' 

In the modern colloquial, too, a frequent idiom is that 
illustrated by : 
michi no tbi koto lit. 'the farness of the road '=' What 
a long way it is ! ' 

In modern English an analogy may be found in newspaper 
head-lines such as 'Death of Jones', which is another way 
of saying 'Jones is dead'. 

This tendency is no doubt reinforced by deficiencies in 
other directions — the lack, for instance, of a simple method 
of indicating agreement of person, number, &c. In rudi- 
mentary propositions, the relation between terms is made 
clear by apposition in significant order. Thus, ame furu, 
'rain falls', furu ame, 'falling rain'. In English, significant 
word-order, together with simple inflexions, is adequate, even 
in longer sentences. Thus 'I know a man comes' is clear 
enough in English, but ware shiru Into kuru would be barely 
intelligible in Japanese. It is necessary to indicate the rela- 
tion between terms. It is here that no, in common with 
other particles, performs a characteristic function. The 
phrase shiru hito as it stands is neutral, in the sense that 
shiru is merely attributive to hito. It may signify either 
'a man who knows' or 'a man who is known'. But if we 
say ware no shiru hito, the particle no brings ware into close 
relation with shiru, and the phrase means 'an I-know man', 
i. e. 'a man that I know'. Analogous with the combination 
ware no shiru is ashi no nagaki in ashi no nagaki hito, ' a man 
with long legs', literally 'a legs-long man'. In the written 
language the simple form ashi nagaki hito is permissible, but 
the colloquial exacts the use of no. 

Since hito no kuru corresponds to 'a man comes' as well 
as to 'a man's coming', the sentence hito no kuru wo shiru 
is the equivalent of 'I know that a man comes'. It will be 
seen that, in these contexts, no serves to form both relative 
and subordinate sentences. Thus : 

kuru hito a man who comes 

hito no kuru toki the time when a man comes 


hito no kuru wo matsu to wait for a man to come 

hito no kuru made matsu to wait until a man comes 
hito no kuru koto the fact of a man's coming, or 

the fact that a man comes 

This use of no is so important that it is worth while, even at 
the risk of over-elaboration, to illustrate the process by which 
it has developed, by means of the following quotations : 

(1) shirayuki no kakareru eda in the branches on which the 

ni uguisu no naku white snow lies the warbler 


Here the first no is the link between subject and predicate 
of a relative sentence. The second connects uguisu with 
naku, which is a substantival form of the verb, and literally 
therefore the last words might be translated ' the singing of 
the warbler', but by an extension of meaning the exclama- 
tion becomes an assertion, and the passage can be fairly 
rendered 'the warbler sings'. 

(2) inaba soyogite akikaze no rustling the young rice the 

fuku autumn wind blows 

(3) shigururu sora ni kari no in the rainy sky the geese are 

naku nari crying 

Here kari no naku is treated as a substantive, and nari serves 
as verb -4- copula — 'It is a crying of the wild geese'. In the 
modern colloquial the sentence would run kari no naku no 
de aru. 

(4) nani ka wakare no kana- how shall the parting be sad? 


(5) Kasugano no wakana tsu- folk will go herb gathering 

mi ni hito no yukuran on the moor of Kasuga 

(6) hito no kokoro no hana to were men's love to fade like 

chirinaba flowers 

In the last three examples the modern colloquial equivalent 
would require the use of ga — wakare ga kanashikarb ; hito 
ga yukb ; kokoro ga hana no yd ni chitte shimaeba. 

In relative sentences where no is affixed to the subject, it 
is quite clear that the exclamatory sense has vanished. Thus 
while hito no taburu might mean 'people's eating !' hito no 


taburu mono means 'the things which people eat', and 
nothing else. I add a few examples of this usage : 

haru no kiru kasumi no ko- the robe of mist that Spring 

romo wears 

hito no ii-morasamu koto things that people may dis- 

imijiki tenjin no amakuda- as if he had seen a splendid 

reru wo mitaran yd ni angel descend from heaven 

shika no kayou hodo no michi It is not likely that a horse 

uma no kayowanu koto aru- cannot follow a path big 

bekarazu enough for a deer to follow 

In its use as a genitive particle no is at times found in the 
written language, and still more frequently in the spoken, 
following one substantive without linking it to another, just 
as in English we can say 'the book is John's'. E. g. : 

Manydshu ni iranu furuki uta old poems not in the Manyo- 

midzukara no wo mo (Kokin.) shu and (poems) of my own 

ima no aruji mo mae no mo the present master and the 

(Tosa) former one 

kore wa anata no desu (Mod. this is yours 

Another elliptical use of no is to be found in such phrases as 

tsubame no tobu no ga hayai the flight of the swallow is 

kitte no furui no wo atsumeru to collect old stamps 
atarashii no ga nai there are no new ones 

hito no kuru no wo matsu to await a person's coming 

The idiom here illustrated is confined to the spoken language, 
and is invariably used where the written language would 
employ simple substantival forms (e. g. hito no kuru wo 
matsu) or make use of the words koto (a thing, abstract) or 
mono (a thing, concrete), as in tsubame no tobu koto, atara- 
shiki mono. The following sentences show the difference 
clearly : 

kono uta wa Hitomaro ga yomikeru~) .,. 

• /T ., v & J \ this poem is one 

nan (Lit.) |^ v , , 

kono uta wa Hitomaro ga yonda no f TT ., ' 

desu (Coll.) J Hltomaro 


This last use of no is very common and of great importance 
in the colloquial. Its meaning is easily understood by re- 
garding no as equal to koto or mono, but this by no means 
necessarily reveals the true sense-development, which is 
difficult to trace. Examples are : 

kore wa warui no desu these are bad ones 

(=warui mono) 

kesa itta no wa machigai de- what I said this morning was 

shita (=itta koto) wrong 

hana no nai no ga aru (=nai there are some without 

mono) flowers 

It is possible that some of the uses of no are due to Chinese 
influence. In early texts, such as the Kojiki, no is repre- 
sented by ;£, a Chinese connective suffix, which corresponds 
in certain ways with no, and it seems likely that special 
Chinese constructions where ;£ was used were reproduced 
in Japanese by means of no, and then adopted, in the written 
language at least, as Japanese. But I confess I cannot 
explain historically the usage shown in the last examples, 
still less the very common colloquial idiom shown in 

anata yuku no desu ka are you going ? 
zuibun samui no desu it 's very cold 

where yuku ka and samui desu would seem to be sufficient. 

GA is by origin a genitive particle, similar in meaning and 
use to no. It establishes, however, to a greater degree than 
no, a possessive relation between the two elements which it 
connects, as is clear from the distinction already pointed out, 
between the demonstrative adjectives kono, sono, &c, and 
the possessive adjectives waga, soga, &c. 

Examples of the use of ga in its primary significance are : 

shi ga kokoro his own heart 

kore wa ta ga te zo whose hand is this ? 

umegaka the scent of the plum-blossom 

kimigayo the king's reign 

kore ga tame on account of this 

It will be found that when ga is affixed to a simple noun, 
that noun is most frequently a word indicating a person. 
It is stated on good authority that in the whole of the Heike 


Monogatari only one example occurs where ga connects two 
substantives of which the first is the name of a thing. In 
all other cases it is the name or description of a person. 
A typical contrast between the uses of the two particles in 
this respect is found in such a phrase as 

shizuno-o ga ono no oto the sound of the peasant's axe 

It is not of course contended that no cannot be used to 
show a purely possessive relation, but that 

(i) the function of no is to express a loose relationship, 
whether attributive or partitive, between two sub- 
stantives, and so to place the second of these in the 
principal position in the clause where it occurs ; and 

(2) the function of ga is to establish a close relationship, 
primarily possessive or dependent, between two sub- 
stantives, and so to place the first of these in the 
principal position in the clause where it occurs. 

The contrast is illustrated in the following examples : 

(1) Masamune no katana a Masamune sword 
Masamune ga katana Masamune's sword 

(2) chichi no Dainagon her father the Dainagon 
Dainagon ga chichi the Dainagon's father 

(3) Taniba no kami the Lord of Tamba 

whereas Tamba ga kami would be as unusual as 'Norfolk's 

GA indicates the subject of a clause, in the same way as no, 
particularly where the relation between subject and predicate 
is, owing to the length or the construction of the sentence, 
not immediately apparent. Thus, while in yofukenu, ' night 
falls', kaze suzushi, 'the wind is cool', there can be no con- 
fusion, in 

sho miru ga omoshiroshi it is pleasant to read books 
chi naki ga oshi those without wisdom are many 

the introduction of ga shows that miru and naki are the 
subjects. When, as in these cases, the subject is a verb or 
adjective in its substantival form, or a substantival group, 
ga is almost invariably used in preference to no, because it 
is on the subject that emphasis is laid. Thus : 


nuru ga uchi ni miru wo nomi shall we call a dream only 
ya wa yume to iwan that which we see during 

sleep ? 

No is used on the other hand in exclamatory sentences, 
like those already quoted, e. g. koe no harukesa, ' the f ar- 
offness of its voice', where the second substantive or verbal 
form is the important one. 

In subordinate (relative) clauses, no is found more often 
than ga, because from their nature the emphasis lies on the 
verb and not on the subject. Thus, hana no saku toki, 'the 
time when flowers blossom', kashikoki hito no tomeru wa mare 
nari, 'it is rare for the wise to be rich'. Where ga is used 
it is because special attention is drawn to the subject. 

In the spoken language it is usual to indicate the subject 
of a sentence by means of a particle, and so it comes about 
that ga is used for this purpose in independent sentences, 
while no is reserved for use in relative clauses. Thus we 
can say 

hana no nai toki a time when there are no flowers 
hana ga nai toki a time when there are no flowers 

with a slight difference of emphasis, but we cannot say hana 
no nai as well as hana ga nai for 'there are no flowers'. 

Ga is used rather than no in phrases like kore ga tame, 
sore ga uye ni, aru ga gotoshi, because the words tame, uye, 
and gotoshi are not of their nature emphatic. Kaku no gotoku 
appears to be an exception, probably because kaku ga gotoku 
would be cacophonous. 

The following are examples from modern prose to illustrate 
the respective uses of these particles : 

waga kuni no rikken seitai no the beginnings of constitu- 
kigen wa, waga kokumin ga tional government in this 
. . . sono dokuritsu wo hozen country are based upon a 
to seshi kokumin no yokkyii demand of the people that 
ni motozuku mono nari they, the people, should . . . 

preserve their independence 

The writer is emphasizing the fact that the demand was 
a popular one, and therefore ga is used rather than no with 
the first kokumin. 

3*70 H n 


gikwai ga kaisan serare yosan the Diet being dissolved, the 

no fuseiritsu wo miru koto failure of the budget is in- 

wa yamu wo enu koto nari evitable 

gikwai no kaisan seraruru wa it is solely for the purpose of 

kokumin no yoron wo tashi- ascertaining the opinion of 

kamuru tame ni hoka nara- the nation that the Diet is 

nu. dissolved 

In the first example, gikwai ga kaisan serare is not a relative 
clause but an incomplete principal clause, and therefore ga 
is used in preference to no. But in the second, the first words 
mean 'the being-dissolved of the Diet', and no is used rather 
than ga, because there is no emphasis on gikwai. 

Though no and ga are now distinct, it is probable that 
they have a common origin. There are traces in the earliest 
Japanese writings of a particle na, which survives as a fossil 
embedded in the words tanagokoro =te no kokoro, 'palm of 
hand' ; manako=me no ko, 'eyeball' ; menajiri=me no 
shiri, ' the canthus', and it is likely that na is an intermediate 
stage between the original form on the one hand and no and 
ga on the other. The Luchuan equivalent is nu, and there 
are in archaic Japanese a number of instances where nu 
represents a later no. The conjectured development * is 


/ \ 

na no 

i i 

nga no 

i i 

ga no 

and this accords with the hypothesis advanced by Aston 
{grammar, 2nd ed., p. 120) that there was a verb nu, 'to 
be', the attributive form nu of which is identical with the 
particle no. It is certainly difficult to understand the sense 
development of no if it was originally a genitive particle, for 
its uses are mainly attributive, and there was a specialized 
genitive particle tsu. 

Ga has a conjunctive use, in co-ordinating two sentences. 
This is discussed separately under Conjunctive Particles. 

1 This conjecture is also put forward by Yamada, Bumpo-ron. 


TSU appears to be a true genitive particle. It is now 
obsolete, though it survives in combination in a number of 
phrases like 

onodzukara ono-tsu-kara, ' by oneself ' 

midzukara mi-tsu-kara, 'by oneself 

ototoi oto-tsu-hi (day before yesterday) 

ototo ? ototsuhito (younger brother) 

yakko ya-tsu-ko (house-child = servant) 

as well as in many place-names, such as Kotsuke, Akitsu- 
shima, Itsukushima, &c. 

In the Heian period tsu was already out of use, except 
for a number of stereotyped compounds. Of these a few 
survive in poetical language, such as akitsukata, 'autumn 
time', mukashitsubito , 'men of old', &c. 

WO, though it seems to have been originally an interjection, 
is now used to mark the objective case. 

A trace of its original exclamatory force can be seen in 
the following examples : 

I will sleep in the middle, O ! 
a voice crying O Ferryman, 

send a boat ! 
come and sing, Oh ! close to 


naka ni wo nemu (K.) 
watarimori June watase wo to 

yobu koe (M.) 
koko ni chikaku wo kinakite 

yo (M.) 

In the Heian period wo is used more freely and with a wider 
range of meaning, as is shown in these quotations : 

(1) nodoka ni wo to nagusame 'gently', he said, to soothe 

tamau (Genji) 

(2) miezu to wo iedomo (Genji) 

(3) toku sdzokite kashiko e wo 


(4) yomosugara mite wo aka- 

samu aki no tsuki 

(5) yume to shiriseba same- 

zaramashi wo . . . 


though (you say) it cannot 
be seen 

dress quickly and come here 

all night long I would keep 
awake, watching the Au- 
tumn moon 

had I known it to be a 
dream, I should not have 
waked, but . . . 



(6) kaku mosu wo tnina hito 

ina to mosu ni yorite 

(7) asu monoimi naru wo 

mon wo tsuyoku saseyo 

(8) natsu no yo wa mada yoi 

nagara akenuru wo kumo 
no idzuko ni tsuki yado- 

he spoke thus, whereat every- 
body said No, and there- 
fore . . . 

to-morrow is a fast day. 
That being so, close the gate 

on summer nights it grows 
light while it is still evening. 
That being so, where in the 
clouds does the moon take 
lodging ? 

The above examples will have shown the development of 
wo from an exclamatory to an emphatic particle. That it 
should now be used to emphasize in particular an objective 
case is the more readily understood when one remembers 
that in Japanese cases are marked, but not formed, by 
particles. It is primarily word-order which determines case 
in Japanese. The following sentences contain words in the 
objective case without wo : 

as I watched the rocking of 
the fishing boats 

he calls some one and gives 
him something 

the Prince ascended, carry- 
ing flowers 

they light fires and bring 

tsuribune no tayutau mireba 
hito wo yobite mono torasu 

Miko wa hana mochite nobori 

hi nado okoshite sumi mote 


Where an adverbial particle is used no case particle is 
required. Thus : 

yama no na nomi ya kikitsu- 

e wa ta ga kakitaru zo 

hearing, it seems, only the 
names of mountains 
who drew the picture ? 

Wo can, however, be used with adverbial particles, though 
ga and no when indicating a nominative cannot. Thus we 
can have the combinations wo mo, woba (=wo wa), as in 
sake wo mo nomu, 'to drink wine also', sake wo ba nomu, 
'to drink wine', but we cannot say ware ga mo nomu for 
'I also drink'. 
Subject to the above, wo may be fairly described as an 



accusative particle. It can govern not only simple nouns, 
but any substantival form, including a complete clause 
regarded as a substantive : 

midzu wo nomu 

hito wo utsu 

hito no kuru wo matsu 

ari ya nashi ya wo shirazu 

to drink water 
to strike a man 
to wait till a man comes 
not knowing whether there 
are or are not 

It is a characteristic rather of certain verbs than of this 
particle that it can be used to indicate the indirect object 
of verbs which in English are intransitive. Thus : 

michi wo yuku to go along a road 
ie wo sumu to live in a house 

which are modern uses, and 

Osaka nite hito wo wakare on parting from a person at 

(Kokin.) Osaka 

toshigoro wo sumishi tokoro a place where he had lived 

for years 

which may be regarded as obsolete. Of this nature are 
elliptical uses like umi wo Nagasaki e—'hy sea to Naga- 
saki', the title of an article in a newspaper. 

When a passive verb is used it can retain the object which 
it would have if active. The object is then designated by wo : 

tokei wo nusumaru he has his watch stolen 

kubi wo kiraruru to have one's head cut off 

mi ni furokku koto wo mato- he had a bomb thrown at 

eru soshi no tame ni bakudan 
wo tozeraretari 

Sanehira saishi wo torare jil- 
taku wo yakiharawarenu to 
kikaba, . . . 

him by a rough garbed in 
a frock coat 
when Sanehira hears that 
his wife and children have 
been seized and his house 
burned down, . . . 

In the phrase mono wo at the end of a sentence, wo retains 
something of its exclamatory force : 

yakusoku no gotoku machishi I waited as agreed ! Why, 
mono wo kimi naze kitazari- despite that, did you not 
shi come ? 

It will be seen that this is equivalent to a conjunctive use. 


The following uses of wo in combination are frequent : 

WOBA consists of wo and the emphatic particle wa ( =ha = 
ba). It has the significance of its two components, i. e. an 
emphasis upon the object : 

kore wo ba tori sore wo ba he takes this and rejects that 

This is exactly parallel to such combinations as wo mo, wo 
zo, wo koso, &c, and calls for no special comment. 

WO MOCHITE, WO MOTTE are used in somewhat formal 
modern prose, instead of ni or ni yotte, to indicate an agent 
or a cause, and can usually be translated 'by' or 'with'. 

Thus : 

tsukai wo motte okuru to send by messenger 

sore wo motte by that means 

sono yue wo motte for that reason 

Ju gwatsu ni ju roku nichi wo came to an end on October 

motte . . . owari wo tsugenu 26 (lit. 'With Oct. 26', &c.) 

WO SHITE is used, also in formal prose, where wo alone 
would be sufficient, to indicate the object, particularly in 
the case of causative verbs, where both direct and indirect 
object are expressed. Thus : 

Yoritomo Yoshitsune wo shite Yoritomo caused Yoshitsune 

Yoshinaka wo semeshimu to attack Yoshinaka 

chichi ko wo shite jitsugyb ni the father puts the son into 

tsukashimu business 

gojin wo shite kitan naku iwa- if you ask me to speak with- 

shimeba out reserve 

This form should be compared with ni shite, used to indicate 
the subject. 

NI in its simplest uses can be variously translated 'in', 'to', 
'at', or 'by', and may be described as a dative, instrumental 
or locative particle. 1. The following are examples of its use 
in the character of a dative particle : 

Sumera mikoto ni sadzukete offering to the Sovereign 

(Res.) Lord 

tare ni ka misemu (M.) to whom shall I show it ? 



hito ni mono wo atau 

oya ni niru 

bushi ni nigon nashi 

ko otsu ni otoru 

to give a thing to a person 
to resemble one's parents 
a knight is truthful (lit. ' to 
a knight there are not two 
words ') 

A. is inferior to B (^ ko, Z. 
otsu, pj hei are used in Ja- 
panese for enumeration, like 
a, b, c) 
kawa ni chikaki uchi a house near the river 

An extension of the dative use, somewhat resembling an 
ethical dative, is found in 

kikun ni wa ikani oboshimesu 
Denka ni mo shitashiku dairin 
asobase . . . 

you Sir, what do you think ? 

His Highness also was gra- 
ciously pleased to inspect it 
in person 

the General was in good 

As an instrumental particle, denoting agency or cause. 

Taishd dono ni wa hiraka ni 

inu ni kamaru 
haha ko ni nakaru 

gakumon ni mi wo kurushi- 

hitome no tsutsushimashisa 

ni waza to ybru ni magirete 

mairite soro 
zaikwa ni kokoro madou 
hana ni mai tsuki ni utai 

he is bitten by a dog 
the mother is wept for by 
the child 
to afflict the body by study 

out of anxiety to avoid being 
seen by others I purposely 
came under cover of the night 
he is led astray by riches 
dancing because of the flow- 
ers, singing because of the 

3. As a locative particle, denoting rest at or motion to 
a point, in space or in time. 

Tokyo ni sumu 
Tokyo ni yuku 
hako ni osamete oku 
hatsuka ni kuru 
nijiigo sai ni oyobu 
goji ni okureru 

to live at Tokyo 

to go to Tokyo 

to keep in a box 

to come on the twentieth 

to reach the age of twenty-five 

to be later than five o'clock 


A slight extension of this use accounts for locutions like 

Morokoshi ni mononarawashi 

ni tsukawashi 
hanami ni yuku 
tomurai ni ku 
nani semu ni ka wa kikio- 

kiyasume ni iu 

sending him to China for 

to go to see the flowers 
he comes to condole 
for what purpose (lit. 'for 

doing what ') should I listen ? 
he says it to soothe (you) 

where ni has the meaning 'for the purpose'. 

A further extension gives it the meaning 'by way of, 
thus : 

ogi wo fue ni fuku 

tsuyu wo tama ni nuku 
na ni ou . . . 

hana wo yuki ni miru 
goza wo kasa ni kaburite 

he blows his fan by way of a 

to thread dewdrops like jewels 
bearing as a name . . . (i. e. 

' named ') 
regarding the flowers as snow 
wearing a piece of matting as 

a hat 

Somewhat similar are expressions like : 

midzu wo yu ni nasu to make cold water into hot 

hito wo baka ni suru to make a fool of a man 

kurenai ni sometaru dyed crimson 

hakase ni nam to become a doctor 

4. The last-named use may be termed adverbial, and akin 
to it is the function of ni to form adverbial phrases from 
substantival forms : 

tadachi ni 
ogosoka ni 
kirei ni 
ogesa ni 
omowazu ni 
kuwauru ni 
anzuru ni 
oniou ni 
omompakaru ni 
uta wo yomu ni 






in addition, moreover 

on reflection 

in my opinion 

when one considers 

in reading poetry 

In common with other case particles, when used in this way 


at the end of a sentence, substantival in form but in fact an 
assertion, ni serves as a conjunctive : 

hi teru ni ame furu while the sun shines it is raining 

This idiom is further discussed under the heading of Con- 
junctive Particles. 

5. Meaning 'alongside of, 'together with' — equally an 
extension of the locative use. 

matsu ni tsuru pine trees and cranes 

shishi ni hbtan nuitaru hita- a robe embroidered with (a 
tare design of) lions and peonies 

This usage is frequent in the colloquial, where ni serves to 
enumerate a number of things in conjunction. Thus the 
cries of pedlars at railway stations : Biru ni masamune {ni) 
matchi ni tabako, 'Beer, Masamune, matches, and tobacco'. 
An idiomatic use of ni which should be mentioned here is 
illustrated in 

hie ni hie trite getting chilled through and 

natnida wo otoshi ni otosu he wept and wept 

yoware ni yowaremairase ma- growing weaker and weaker 

nanibito mo machi ni machi- this was the encounter with 
taru teki-kan to no shukkwai the enemy's ships for which 
nari we had all waited and 


6. Meaning 'being', in such locutions as 

Imoo Dono no rddo ni Mune- there is a retainer of Imoo 
toshi to iu ko no mono ari Dono's, a stalwart named 


It might be argued that ni here is used simply in its locative 
sense, and could be translated 'among the retainers', but 
that would not account for 

sono uchi ni I so no Zenshi ga of these a dancer named Shid- 
musume ni Shidzuka to iu zuka, the daughter of Iso no 
shirabyoshi bakari zo miezu Zenshi, alone was missing 

With the exception of the last named, the foregoing uses of 
ni are not hard to understand, particularly by those accus- 
tomed to the variety of English prepositions. It is, indeed, 
3*70 j i 


worth noting that ni is used uniformly in a number of cases 
where the English idiom exacts a different preposition each 
time : 

no tame ni for the sake of no yue ni on account of 
no toki ni at the time of no baai ni in the case of 

&c, &c. 

There is, however, a use of ni which, though one of the most 
important, cannot be explained by any analogy with those 
described above. It is that illustrated in such sentences as : 

kore ni arazu it is not this 

ayashiki mono ni koso are he is forsooth a strange per- 

nanigoto ni ka aran what is it, do you suppose ? 

wadono tachi wa idzuko no what countrymen are you ? 

hito ni ka 

kono kurai wa ametsuchi no this rank is a rank granted 

sadzuketamau kurai ni ari by Heaven and Earth 


iwarenu mono ni areya (Res.) is it a thing not to be spoken ? 

Gankai naru mono the man Gankai 

Here the combination of ni with the verb aru has simply the 
meaning 'to be'. In English, because there is only one verb 
'to be' we are apt to overlook the distinction between its 
predicative use (e. g. 'there are stones', where it means that 
stones exist) and its use as a mere copula (e. g. 'these are 
stones', where it connects subject and predicate, but does 
not mean anything by itself). 

The Japanese verb aru is a predicative verb, and ishi ari 
means 'there are stones', 'stones exist'. It cannot possibly 
mean 'it is a stone'. To convey the latter meaning we must 
say ishi nari ( = ni +ari), where ni acts as the copula between 
ishi and the predicative verb ari. No other explanation will 
account satisfactorily for the presence of ni in the example 
just quoted, or for its use, in the form nite, as in : 

mae wa umi nite ushiro wa in front it is the sea, behind 
yama nari it is the mountains 

kore wa gin nite sore wa kin this is silver and that is gold 
nari (lit. 'this being silver that 

is gold ') 


Tokimasa wa kashikoki hito seeing that Tokimasa was a 
nite hakarigoto aru mono to clever man with good plans 


Here not only does ni act as a verb, but it even has a verb 
suffix, te (the gerund of tsu), attached to it. This might of 
course be explained as an ellipsis of ni arite, as tote is of to 
iite, but tote is not found in early literature, while nite is 
common. Certainly the hypothesis that ni is a relic of an 
extinct verb which was a true copula makes it easy to under- 
stand many of the uses of ni and no which are otherwise 
inexplicable. This is particularly true of (6) above — I so no 
Zenshi ga musume ni, &c. — and of such locutions as chichi 
no Dainagon. These become quite clear if we assume no to 
be nu, the attributive form of the conjectured verb ('the 
Dainagon who is my father'). It is significant that with 
honorific forms of the predicative verb 'to be', ni or nite is 
constantly used as a copula. Thus : 

omoigake naki koto ni gozasoro it is an unexpected thing 

Gen to mosu mono nite haberi he is a man called Gen 

on imo nite mashimashikereba since she is his sister 

kokorotakeki hito nite owashi he was a bold-hearted man 

The following forms of ni in combination are frequent, and 
deserve some special notice : 

NI OKERU. Okeru is the intransitive verb derived from 
oku, 'to put', and it is in the attributive form. Ni okeru 
consequently means 'situated in'. It is used to express 
location, as follows : 

waga kuni ni okeru minken the democratic movement in 
undo our country 

The locution is confined to the written language, and it is 
almost certainly of Chinese origin, being a translation of the 
Chinese jfe. 

NI OITE, for ni okite, is the adverbial form of the above, 
and is used in the following way : 

Harubin ni oite ichi kybkan ni he was shot by some ruffian 

sogeki seraretari at Harbin 

koko ni oite at this point, hereupon 


ware ni oite in my case, so far as I am 

ippo ni oite wa on the one hand 

kyozetsu suru ni oite wa in case he declines 

NI SHITE, apart from its literal significance of 'making 
into' (hito wo baka ni shite, 'making a fool of a person'), is 
used in modern prose to indicate the subject of a sentence 
where there is some fear of ambiguity. The employment of 
wo shite to denote the object is analogous. 

Owing to a somewhat difficult idiom by which the verbs 
aru and suru are sometimes interchangeable [v. p. 217), ni 
shite sometimes has the meaning of ni arite, as in the fol- 
lowing examples : 

takumi ni shite sumiyaka nari being skilful is speedy, i.e. is 

skilful and speedy 
kaimen taira ni shite kagami the surface of the sea, being 

no gotoshi smooth, is like a mirror 

kin wa koshoku ni shite gin gold being yellow silver is 
wa shiroshi white, i. e. gold is yellow 

and silver white 
Tenno wa shinsei ni shite oka- the Emperor is sacred and 
subekarazu inviolable 

It will be found as a general rule that ni shite is inter- 
changeable with nite. In the sentence 

kono on biwa ni shite . . hi- with this lute he deigned to 
kase tamau (HK.) play . . . 

ni shite can only be explained as a formal substitute for 
nite — 'by' or 'with'. 

NITE consists of ni and the conjunctive form, te, of the verb 
suffix tsu. It has, generally speaking, the same uses as ni, 
except that it is not used to make a dative. Examples are : 

June nite kawa wo wataru to cross a river by boat 

fude nite kaku to write with a pen 

yotsukado nite au to meet at the crossroads 

moyuru nomi nite bakuhatsu it only burns and does not 

sezu explode 

atama wa hito nite mi wa uo as to its head it is a man and 

nari as to its body a fish 


Nite is the origin of the colloquial de, the uses of which can 
be shown to correspond with the uses of ni or nite. De aru 
is the same as nite aru, demo as nite mo, and so on. 

Nite can have the locative sense of ni, meaning 'at' or 
'in', but it cannot mean 'to', in the sense of direction 
towards a place. In 

ani mo Kyo nite hoshi nite ari his brother too is a priest, at 


we see nite meaning both 'at' and 'to be'. 

TO appears to have been originally a demonstrative pronoun 
corresponding to the English word 'that'. This meaning 
survives in phrases like tokaku, 'that-this way', 'anyhow', 
and possibly in certain dialectical usages, such as yuku to 
desu, which seems to correspond to 'he is going, that he is'. 
A trace of this demonstrative sense can be perceived in 
such constructions as 

Ha to iu he says Ha ! 

ki to naru it becomes a tree 

which might be literally rendered ' Ha ! that he says ', and 
'a tree, that it becomes'. 

In the Rescripts of the Shoku Nihongi we find clauses of 
the following type : 

Akitsukami to oyashima no kuni shiroshimesu sumera, &c. 

which can be translated 'The Sovereign that is a Manifest 
God ruling the Land of Many Islands'. Here to definitely 
has the sense of 'that is'. Similarly in early texts we find 
such locutions as Chichi to masu hito, ' the person that is my 
father', where to corresponds almost exactly with the de- 
monstrative ' that ' in English, in its use as a relative. 

From such beginnings to has developed a correlative use, 
which may in a comprehensive way be defined as the expres- 
sion of a parity or similarity between two things. Thus : 

tama wo ishi to miru to regard jewels as stones 

onna wo tsuma to suru to make a woman one's wife 

ko wo takara to iu to call children treasures 

kare wo teki to omou to think him an enemy 

The earlier Japanese grammarians distinguished the uses 
just illustrated as 'The five tos', referring to the employment 


of the five verbs miru, kiku, omou, iu, and suru. But the 
employment of these verbs is merely incidental to the func- 
tion of to in expressing parity or similarity, and is due to 
the fact that these relations must be perceived or created by 
one or all of the senses which the verbs describe in operation. 
A study of the examples given below will show that to 
expresses the relation itself, and not merely the judgement 
of a relation involved in the use of words like miru, omou, &c. 

i. ware mo ningen tari I also am a human being 

where tari is to ari, 1 and a parity is established between ware 
and ningen. 

chichi taru hito the person who is my father 

ki ishi to nari trees become stones 

kimi yukan to areba since you mean to go (' since 

it is that you are going ') 

2. In the following examples the element of judgement is 
either expressed or understood : 

hito wo chichi to agamu to look up to a person as a 

nanji wo zainin to minasu I regard you as a criminal 
ko wa otsu to onajiku A in the same way as B 

ko wa otsu to chigaeri A is different from B 

ko wo otsu to kuraburu to compare A with B 

utan to shitari he made to strike 

ya wo nukan to su he tries to draw out the 

Yedo wo Tokyo to aratame changing Yedo to Tokyo 

zeni nashi to iu he says he has no money 

3. In Japanese all statements are reported in direct ora- 
tion, on the model of the last example, which can be rendered 
equally well 'He says, "I have no money".' Occasionally 
the verb which introduces the quotation is placed at its head, 
but to always marks the end of the narration. Thus : 
Kwansai chihb ni kosui ariki a telegram has arrived say- 

to iu dempd tochaku seri ing that there has been a 

flood in the Kwansai district 
sono dempd iwaku Kwansai the telegram says, 'There 
chihb ni kosui ariki to has been a flood in ', &c. 

1 This tari is a late form, v. infra TO ARI. 



Strictly speaking, the adjective or verb immediately pre- 
ceding to should be in the conclusive form, but custom 
sanctions the use of the attributive, as in tsuki idzuru to 
miyu, where idzuru is written for idzu. 

The verb following to is frequently understood or included 
in the sense of another verb : 

ari ya ina ya to shimpai su 

daniare to shikaru 

awaya tsuiraku suruka to te 

ni ase wo nigirishi ni buji ni 

chi ni chakusu 

Genji no June wo isso mo mo- 
rasaji to Mishimagatsu wo 

he is anxious (wondering) 
whether there are or are not 

he scolded (saying) Silence ! 

while they clenched their 
hands perspiring (with fear 
as they thought) ' Alas, will 
he fall ? ' he descended safe- 
ly to earth 

they surrounded Mishimaga- 
tsu (intending) not to allow 
a single ship of the Genji to 

4. Probably akin to its use after verbs denoting hearing or 
speaking, or otherwise connected with sound, is the employ- 
ment of to to form onomatopoeic adverbs. Thus : 

gogo to nam to sound Gogo, i.e. to rumble 

karakara to warau to laugh harshly 

horohoro to naku to weep and sob 

5. An extension of this process accounts for a large number 
of adverbs which, though not strictly speaking onomato- 
poeics, are similar to them. These can be related as a rule 
to percepts other than sounds, but they resemble the above 
group in that they are composed of duplicated words, or at 
least of pairs of words that have some rhyme or assonance. 
Examples are : 

chiri-jiri to naru 
hira-bira to tobu 
harubaru to miyuru 
rin-ri to 
rei-ro to 
ran-man to 

to be scattered 

to flutter 

to be seen distantly 




hatsu-ratsu to, kaku-yaku to, san-ran to, do-do to, ga-ga to, 
tan-tan to, yu-yu to, &c. 


6. To is also suffixed to compounds formed with the 
Chinese adverbial suffixes zen %k jo #q ko ^ &c., as in 

totsu-zen to {% jfe), 'suddenly' 
kakko to ($| %), ' firmly ' 
fun jo to ($f #n), 'confusedly' 
totsujo to (^ #n), 'suddenly' 

It may be objected that this list covers the whole field of 
adverbs, but it will be found by those who care to examine 
a large number of adverbial expressions that a distinction 
can be drawn between those formed with to and those formed 
with ni. 

Adverbs formed with to are in a sense pictorial ; they are 
of the nature of similes, and deal with qualities as they are 
perceived. On the other hand, those formed with ni refer 
not only to apparent but also to actual and inherent charac- 
teristics. This difference is consistent with the difference 
between the two particles, for to expresses similarity or 
parity, while ni expresses identity. The contrast is perhaps 
best suggested by such pairs as 

kin wo gin to kaeru to change gold for silver 

kin wo gin ni kaeru to change gold into silver 

goza wo kasa ni kaburu to wear matting as a hat 

goza wo kasa to kaburu to wear matting for a hat 

The distinction, though slight, is just perceptible. In the 
first case the matting is regarded as being a hat, in the second 
as similar to or replacing a hat. Even if this contrast is 
stated rather more definitely than actual usage warrants, it 
will be found to explain a number of uses of to and ni, tari 
and nari, which are otherwise hard to grasp. Comparing the 
two formations it will be seen : 

(i) (Cf . 4, above) That there are no onomatopoeic adverbs 
in ni. 

(2) (Cf. 5, above) That whereas an expression like haru- 

baru to means 'distantly', 'as from afar', haruka ni 
means 'in the distance', 'far away'. 

(3) (Cf. 6, above) That one cannot say teinei to for teinei 

ni or tashika to for tashika ni, because teinei and 
tashika are not figurative words, but attributes de- 


scribing actual qualities. Conversely, one must say 
totsuzen to for 'with a rush', 'in an abrupt way', 
while totsuzen ni means simply 'of a sudden', 'in 
a moment '. 

7. In all the foregoing illustrations (1-6) to serves to corre- 
late two things ; but one of its most important uses is to 
co-ordinate them — in simpler words, to act like the conjunc- 
tion 'and'. Thus : 

na to a to (K.) thou and I 

Rai to Gaku to (Res.) Etiquette and Music 

Hangman ga yakata to Kane- the Hangwan's mansion and 

yuki ga ie Kaneyuki's house 

It can also have the meaning ' together with ', ' along with ' : 

ware nanji to kare wo towan I will visit him with you 
kikun to tomo ni together with you 

chichi to katari ko to asobu talking with the father, play- 

ing with the child 
yukan to mo yukaji to mo ko- please yourself whether you 
koro ni makaseyo will go or not go 

It is an extension of this conjunctive use of to, particularly 
of the form illustrated in the last example, which has given 
rise to the forms -to, -tomo, -do, -domo, used as Conjunctive 
Particles uniting two sentences (v. under Conjunctive Par- 
ticles, p. 275). 

8. An idiomatic use of to (similar in meaning and develop- 
ment to that described in the case of ni under 5) is seen in : 

yo ni ari to aru hito everybody in the world 

art to arayuru shudan all possible devices 

kaze Juki to fukinu the wind blew with all its 

ureshi to mo ureshi ! joyful as can be ! 

iki to shi ikeru mono idzure is there any thing which lives 
ka uta wo yomazarikeru at all that has not composed 

verses ? 

The following are the more important uses of to in com- 
position : 

TO ARI (TARI) has by usage assumed the character of an 
auxiliary verb, but it must not be confused with -tari, the 
wo K k 


verbal suffix which is composed of te (conjunctive form of 
tsu) and the verb -ari. 

Tari as an auxiliary verb is analogous to nari, which in a 
like way is composed of ni and ari. Examples of its use are : 
ko taru (ko to aru) mono wa persons who are children, i.e. 

those falling within the cate- 
gory children, ' the child ' 
nanji bunsho no hito taru ni seeing that you are a man of 
yotte letters 

With this idiom should be compared the locution Chichi to 
masu hito, quoted above. 1 

It can be used with any of those uninflected Chinese words 
which become adverbs by the aid of to. Thus : 
sono arisama santan tari the sight is pitiful 
santantaru arisama a pitiful sight 

dodo taru shinshi a dignified gentleman 

gaga taru ganseki rugged-looking rocks 

shoko hanzen tareba the proof being clear 

In a general way, the difference between tari and nari is 
the difference between to and ni. To assimilates A to B, 
while ni states an identity between A and B. Thus : 
gunjin taru shikaku the qualification of being a 


gunjin naru shikaku the qualification ' soldier ' 

gero no mi nite taishb-taru for a menial to have killed 

mono wo koroshitsuru wa . . . such a person as a General... 

TO SU {TO SHI, TO SHITE). These compounds have the 
meanings which follow naturally from the meanings of theii 
components. Thus : 

tomo to subeki mono one who can be made a friend 

jdsen sen to suru mono persons intending to embark 

Rather more difficult is a group of idioms in which suru 
takes the place of aru, and the combination to shite, for 
instance, has the meaning to arite, just as ni shite can stand 
for ni arite or nite. Examples are : 

tsuyaku to shite jugun seri he was attached to the army 

as interpreter 

1 It should be understood that tari as a contraction of to ari does 
not occur in Nara or early Heian texts. 


shoko hanzen to shite inamu 

ware ten no shu to shite bud 

no uchi no bud nari 


shugi to shite 

seisaku no hbshin wo danko to 

shite kettei subeshi 
toki to shite 
Heike no inori no hitotsu to 

shite shirushi wa nakari keri 

kami hitori yori hajimete shi- 
mo bammin ni itaru made 
hitori to shite nageki kana- 
shimazu to iu koto nashi 

the proof being clear it can- 
not be denied 

I being the Lord of Heaven 
am the Warrior King of 
Warrior Kings 

as a principle, on principle 

the policy of government 
must be definitely fixed 

at times, occasionally 

of all the prayers of the 
Heike, not a single one was 

from the highest in the land 
down to his lowest subjects, 
there was not one who did 
not bewail and grieve 

It will be found that to suru is often quite adequately 
rendered in English by the verb 'to be', without introducing 
any idea of 'to regard as'. Thus : 

sono hattatsu wo meiryo ni 
seru chosho no imada ara- 
warezaru wo ikan to su 

it is to be regretted that so 
far no work has appeared 
which makes its develop- 
ment clear 

TOTE, though analogous in form to nite, has a more limited 
use. It cannot stand for to arite, but only for to and some 
verb expressing or including the idea of seeing, thinking, 
saying, &c, as in the following examples : 

sugu kaeranu tote idetachikeri 

hanami ni tote idetatsu 

mukashi Ishikawa Goemon 
tote nadakaki dorobo arishiga 

he went off saying that he 
would soon come back 

he went off meaning to go to 
see the flowers 

once upon a time there was 
a famous robber called Ishi- 
kawa Goemon . . . 

Sometimes tote stands for to iite or to iitemo in the sense of 
to iedemo, meaning 'although' : 

sari tote though that be so 

sareba tote though that is so 


To wa is used elliptically like tote, some verb like ' to say ' 
being understood, as in : 

asamashi to wa yo no tsune it may be wretched, but it 's 
nari the way of the world, lit. 

' what (is called) wretched is 
the way of the world' 

To mo is used in a similar way, as in 

nikushi to mo yo no tsune nari though it is disagreeable it 's 

the way of the world 

If these elliptical uses of to mo, to wa, and tote are compared 
it will be seen how tomo, domo, and do have acquired their 
function as conjunctive particles, with the meaning of 

HE, usually pronounced e or ye, denotes motion towards a 
point, as distinguished from motion up to a point, expressed 
by ni. Thus we have Tokyo e yuku, 'to go to Tokyo', but 
Tokyo ni itaru, 'to reach Tokyo'. The distinction is, how- 
ever, not always observed in writing, and does not exist in 

He is a word meaning 'place', which is now obsolete as an 
independent substantive, but exists in combinations in such 
words as yukue, 'destination', literally 'go-place'. It is no 
doubt identical with be in umibe, 'seaside', hamabe, 'coast', 
&c, and surnames like Watanabe. 

It appears as a substantive in early texts, as in umi no he, 
' the coast ', hesaki, ' the prow of a ship ', and it is the element 
denoting direction in the common words mae, 'front' (=ma- 
he, 'the true direction'), and ue, 'top' (= u-he, 'topside'), 
inishie, 'the past' (inishi = departed), ie, 'house' (= i jg 
'dwelling', he, 'place'). 1 

YORI denotes the point from which an act or a state com- 
mences, either in time or space, or in an abstract sense. Thus : 

inishie yori from of old 

roku ji yori hajimaru begins at six o'clock 

1 It maybe objected that these derivations involve two different 
sound changes, i.e. he to e and he to be. But the original sound of 
he was almost certainly something like p followed by a light 


hito yori ukuru to receive from a person 

Shina yori kaerite returning from China 

koko yori higashi no kata eastwards from here 

In such expressions as 

kore yori hoka other than this (lit. ' outside 

of ') 
akiramuru yori hoka wa nashi we can only resign ourselves 

the point of departure is an abstraction. The construction 
is similar in 

kin wa gin yori omoshi gold is heavier than silver 

takara wa inochi yori oshishi wealth is more precious than 

hitori min yori mo hito to min I would rather see it with 

others than alone 
jinko yori ieba sekai daito no in population (lit. ' speaking 
dai go i ni oru from [the standpoint of] 

population ') it is the fifth in 

rank of the world's great 


The word yori appears in some early texts as yuri, and 
there are synonymous forms yu and yo. Yuri is found in 
the Manyoshu and Shoku Nihongi, but not in the Kojiki. 
Yo is found in the Kojiki and the Manyoshu, but not in the 
Nihongi. Yu is found in the Manyoshu and the Nihongi, 
but not in the Kojiki. It is therefore hard to say which is 
the earliest form. But I suspect that it is yu, and that this 
yu persists in the word yue, meaning 'cause', which is pro- 
bably yu +he, the archaic word meaning ' place ' or ' direction ' 
which is now the particle he (q.v.). Yue would thus signify 
the place from which a thing arises, i. e. its ground or reason, 
and yu therefore presumably had a meaning like 'origin'. 
The change of vowel from yu to yo, yuri to yori, is quite 
common. The obsolete word gari, meaning 'towards', may 
provide an analogy for the formation of yori and yuri from 
yo and yu, but this is mere conjecture. In any case it seems 
almost certain that the earliest form of yori was a noun, yu 
or yo, signifying a starting-point. There is a verb yoru, 
meaning ' to depend upon '. It may be that yori, in the sense 
of 'owing to', 'deriving from', is a separate formation from 


this verb, but I am inclined to think that all these forms 
arise from an original form yu. 

Yori in the written language has, like other particles, 
developed a special use as a conjunctive particle, by which 
it acquires the meaning ' since ' or ' because ', as in amefurishi 
yori gwaishutsu sezariki, 'since it rained, I did not go out'. 

KARA in its modern use is practically identical with yori. 
In the spoken language it is used almost to the exclusion of 
yori, while kara is rare in the written language. In both, 
however, yori must be used to indicate comparison. Thus 
kore yori takashi, and not kore kara takashi, for ' it is higher 
than this'. 

There is no doubt that kara was at one time a noun, with 
a meaning something like 'cause' or 'origin'. This can still 
be perceived in compounds like 

midzukara, onodzukara (= mi-tsu-kara, ono-tsu-kara) , 'of 

one's own accord' 
iegara, 'house-origin', meaning lineage or family. 
kunigara, 'country-origin', meaning nationality. 
harakara, 'belly-origin', i. e. parentage, thence acquiring 

the meaning 'of the same parentage', and used as a 

noun to indicate 'brothers and sisters', born of the 

same mother. 

The common word nagara, which has developed the meaning 
of 'while', is derived from na (the genitive particle no, as in 
manako, &c.) and kara. It is found acting as a substantival 
form in early texts, as for instance in the phrase kami 
nagara, used in describing the emperors, with the sense of 
'descended from the gods'. 

It will be noticed that the last three particles treated, he, 
yori, and kara, were all originally independent substantives. 
We may therefore reasonably assume that the development 
of some at least of the other particles has been analogous. 

Kara, like yori, serves as a conjunctive, with the meaning 
'since' or 'because', but in the spoken language only. Ame 
ga furu kara denai, 'I don't go out, because it 's raining'. 
kaette kara aimasen, ' since I came back I haven't met him ', 
kaetta kara aimasho, 'since he has come back, I shall meet 


MADE as a case particle means ' as far as ', ' until ', e. g. : 

Tokyo made yuku to go as far as Tokyo 
kuji made neru to sleep until nine o'clock 

It can also act as an adverbial particle. 


This class consists of the particles wa, mo, zo, nan, koso, 
nomi,bakari,shika, dake, nado, dani, sura, sae, and made, 

together with the Interrogatives ka and ya. • 

They are distinguishable from the Case Particles by the 
fact that they can be suffixed to forms other than sub- 
stantival forms ; that they can be suffixed to substantives 
to which a case particle is already attached ; and that they 
aff ect frequently the meaning of a whole sentence rather than 
of a single word. These distinctions are shown by the fol- 
lowing examples : 

(1) Adverbial particles suffixed to forms other than sub- 
stantival forms : 

kazefukeba koso June idasazu because the wind blows the 

boat is not put out 

kuchioshiku wa omoedomo although I think it regret- 


yume narishi ka ? was it a dream ? 

mata mo kon I will come again 

nan no tsumi arite zo ? for what crime indeed ? 

(2) Adverbial particles following substantives with case 
particles : 

fune ni mo, ni zo, ni wa, ni koso, &c. 
June wo mo, wo zo, woba, wo koso, &c. 

Any adverbial particle can follow any case particle. 

(3) Adverbial particles affecting the meaning of a sentence 
as a whole : 

kaze fukeba koso for the very reason that the 

wind is blowing 
kore koso tama nare this indeed is a jewel 
kore mo tama nari this also is a jewel 

yume nariki it was a dream 

yume narishi ka ? was it a dream ? 


It will be seen that there is very little to distinguish these 
particles from true adverbs, and a rigid classification would 
probably include them under the latter heading. But, as 
noticed above, they differ from adverbs in that they have 
no independent existence. They are, moreover, very much 
akin to the other particles in that they are often closely 
attached to nouns, even though their function may be to 
modify the predicate. They may therefore reasonably be 
treated as intermediate between the other particles and 

WA (which is properly written ha) when suffixed to a noun 
is loosely described as indicating a nominative case ; but 
this is not its true or its only function. It occurs with nouns 
in the dative and objective cases, and though it is true that 
it is often attached to substantives that form the subject of 
a sentence, this is merely a corollary of its general signi- 

Some idea of that significance can be obtained from the 
following definitions, quoted from various Japanese au- 
thorities : 

(i) Wa singles out and displays a given thing (Yoshioka, 
Taisho Goho). 

(2) Wa is used to designate a thing clearly and to prevent 
its being confused with other things (Yamada, Bumpo-ron). 

(3) Wa is a teniwoha which distinguishes things severally ; 
while others such as mo take one thing and regard it in its 
relation to other things (Otsuki). 

That wa has nothing to do with what we call case is easy 
to show. In sake wo ba nomazu (ba = wa) the noun is the 
object of a verb. In 

Sendai e wa yukanu I do not go to Sendai 

kare to wa kotonari it is different from that 

kanashiku wa omoedo though I feel sad 

kore ni wa arazu it is not this 

wa is suffixed respectively to nouns in cases other than the 
objective, to an adverb, and to another particle. This dis- 
poses of. any possible contention that wa is a nominative 

All authorities, however, seem agreed that wa is, in Aston's 


words, ' a separative or distinguishing particle ', but they do 
not tell us precisely what, or why, it distinguishes. A typical 
illustration of its function is 

kono hana wa shiroshi this flower is white 

which is explained as meaning 'this flower, irrespective of 
other flowers, is white'. So far as it goes, the explanation 
is correct, but it does not seem to be sufficient. Those who 
use it have loaded the dice in their own favour, for the word 
kono, 'this', already indicates that one particular, irrespec- 
tive of other flowers, is white. If we take a sentence which 
is not open to this objection, a sentence expressing what is 
called a universal judgement, such as 

hi wa atsushi fire is hot 

we must, following the usual explanation of wa, interpret it 
as meaning that fire, irrespective of all other things, such as 
ice, stone, grass, wealth or happiness, is hot. One can take 
no exception to this on grounds of accuracy, but one may 
ask why it should be necessary in Japanese to express oneself 
with such caution. In English, at any rate, a statement on 
the model of ' fire is hot ' is complete and requires no modi- 
fication. One does not need, when 'hot' is predicated of 
'fire', to make reservations as to the qualities of other things. 
If, for some reason not yet apparent, such reservations are 
necessary in Japanese, then why do we not say hi wa atsushi 
wa, to show that fire, irrespective of other things, is hot, 
irrespective of other qualities. It is hard to believe that in 
Japanese alone such a degree of emphasis is required in an 
elementary proposition. The word 'emphasis' does, how- 
ever, furnish some clue. Emphatic particles are freely used 
in Japanese, for two very good reasons. In the first place 
spoken Japanese has an even accentuation, and it is there- 
fore not easy to emphasize words by vocal stresses. In the 
second place English, for instance, has other ways of showing 
emphasis, which are not available in Japanese. Thus we can 
say ' I did go ' instead of ' I went ', or we can say ' John it 
was ' instead of ' It was John ' ; but Japanese does not allow 
of such modifications or changes in significant word-order. 
These considerations go a long way towards explaining the 
use of emphatic particles where emphasis is required, but 
they do not sufficiently account for all the uses of wa. For 

3»7o L 1 


one thing, if wa is emphatic, so are zo and koso, and there is 
not much difference, except in degree of emphasis, between 
hi wa atsushi, hi zo atsuki, and hi koso atsukere. Seeing that 
all these particles existed in a relatively primitive stage of 
the language, it is surely unlikely that the language would 
have developed such a refinement as three grades of emphasis 
unless forced to it by a deficiency in some other direction. 
If we can lay our finger on this deficiency, it may help us to 
ascertain the true nature of these particles. 

In English, the proposition 'Fire is hot' consists of two 
terms, a subject, 'fire', and a predicate, 'hot', brought into 
relation by the copula 'is'. The two terms in simple juxta- 
position, though vaguely comprehensible, do not form a 
complete logical or grammatical proposition unless they are 
related in some way. In the sentence ' Fire burns ', the copula 
'is' disappears, but the two terms are related by another 
grammatical device, namely, by their position relatively to 
one another and by the presence of the inflexion 's'. Even 
in English, which has lost its character as an inflected tongue, 
agreements of person and number are retained precisely to 
serve this necessary purpose — to relate subject and object. 

There does not seem to be any fundamental difference 
between the function of wa in hi wa atsushi and the function 
of 'is' in 'fire is hot'. Wa, in fact, serves to relate subject 
and predicate of a logical proposition. Motoori perceived 
this, and called wa, zo, &c, kakari or musubi, both words 
signifying 'to join' or 'to connect'. It is separative or 
emphatic to this extent, that the mental process by which 
any logical proposition is formed consists of two stages, first 
an analysis and then a synthesis. When we say ' fire is hot ', 
we have first selected from all the concepts in our minds the 
particular concept fire, and then we predicate of it some 
selected property. Wa in Japanese denotes the concept 
selected. It may thus be called selective, separative or dis- 
tinguishing. It marks, however, not an emphasis modifying 
a proposition, but an emphasis inherent in every proposition. 

Probably one of the best illustrations of the true function 
of wa is provided by the Japanese idiom which is commonly 
used where in English we should employ a passive construc- 
tion. In English a sentence like 'This house was built by 
my father ' is of a normal type, but the Japanese idiom does 


not favour a passive construction applied to the name of an 
inanimate thing, because an inanimate thing like a house 
cannot get an act performed, cannot, for instance, get itself 
built. Consequently in Japanese the correct rendering of 
the above sentence is kono uchi wa chichi ga tatemashita, 
where the subject of the logical proposition kono uchi, 'this 
house', is designated by wa, and the predicate is the com- 
plete sentence chichi ga tatemashita, 'my father built'. 

Though, as indicated above, wa may be regarded as serving 
as a copula, it would be wrong to leave that statement 
unqualified. The sentences hi atsushi ('fire is hot') and hi 
moyu ('fire burns') are not grammatically incomplete, be- 
cause in each case the predicate is indicated by a special 
predicative termination, so that, one term being fixed, the 
remaining term must be the subject. They are not, however, 
connected by a copula of any sort, and while this is unim- 
portant in rudimentary propositions, the need of some con- 
necting link is felt when the proposition becomes complex, 
or indeed when the predicate is uninflected as in hana wa 
kurenai, ' the flowers are crimson ', where kurenai is an unin- 
flected adjective. One further qualification must be added. 
There is in Japanese a copulative verb, nari, corresponding 
in a sense to the English verb 'to be'. But its use does not 
preclude the use of wa. Thus we say matsu wa ki nari, 'the 
pine is a tree', and in this case the function of connecting 
the two terms is performed by wa and nari in combination. 
If either is removed, the proposition can still be established, 
though not with precision, for both matsu wa ki and matsu 
ki nari are, though barely, intelligible and grammatical, and 
matsu ki is neither. 

Taking into consideration all the arguments set forth 
above, it seems that the Japanese language has adopted 
a special device for relating the terms of the notation of a 
logical proposition. Whereas in English these terms are 
related by an actual connecting link, in Japanese they are 
related by definition : 

(1) In hi wa atsushi the subject is defined by wa, the 
predicate by the special predicative termination shi. 

(2) In kawa wa nagaru, 'rivers flow', the subject is defined 
by wa, and the predicate by the special predicative termina- 
tion ru. In this, as in the foregoing case, the colloquial has 


abandoned the use of the special predicative terminations, 
and thus given an added importance tow. 

(3) In matsu wa ki nari, wa again defines the subject, and 
since ki, the predicate, is an uninfected word, the predicative 
verb nari is used to define the predicate. The terms of the 
proposition are, in fact, 

matsu, 'pine' — the subject 

ki nari, ' exists as a tree ' — the predicate 

and by means of wa, 'existence as a tree' is predicated of 
'pine'. It will be seen from reference to the section devoted 
to auxiliary verbs that nari is not a copulative verb, but is 
composed of ni and the verb art, which means 'to exist'. 

The following examples will illustrate the various uses of 
wa : 

1. Wa with substantives or substantival phrases, irrespec- 
tive of case. 

ko wa otsu nari A is B 

takeki mononofu no kokoro wo what soothes the heart of 
nagusamuru wa uta nari fierce warriors is Poetry 

In these cases there is no emphatic value. 

tokidoki deiri wa su to kikedo though I hear that he does 

frequent them at times 
kono yama wa takaku kano this mountain is high, and 
yama wa hikushi that one is low 

Here wa is not emphatic, but it does serve to distinguish 
clearly the principal word — in this case the subject of the 

ware wa hito no kitaru wo I did not know that anybody 
shirazarishi had come 

Here the principal clause is ware . . . shirazarishi, and the 
insertion of a subordinate clause between subject and pre- 
dicate makes it desirable to define the subject by means of 
wa. It may be taken as a general rule that wa marks the 
subject of principal clauses, and no or ga the subject of 
subordinate clauses. 

The purely emphatic force of wa is most apparent when 
it is affixed to words which are not the subject of a sentence. 
This follows naturally from the fact explained above, that 


when distinguishing the subject its use is determined by the 
form rather than the meaning of the sentence. Thus : 
kanashiku wa omoedo though I think it sad 
yoku wa shiranedomo though I do not know well 

where wa is not necessary to the construction, and must 
therefore be emphatic. 

When wa is suffixed to ordinary adverbs, its effect is as 
illustrated in the two examples above ; but when suffixed 
to sentence-adverbs it completely modifies their meaning : 

mata — again, but mata wa = or, as in fujin mala wa 
kodomo, ' ladies or children ' 

moshi = if, but moshi wa = possibly 

tadashi = but, but tadashi wa «- perhaps not 

Wa appears at times to have an interrogative force, as in 
idzura wa aki no nagashi to where are they, those long 

iii yo wa nights of Autumn ? 

kitaritsuran wa to towaseta- since he inquired, saying ' He 

maeba will have come ? ' 

This usage is familiar in the colloquial, in such phrases as Anata 
wa, ' What about you ? ' Kippu wa ? ' What about the tickets ? ' 
When wa is suffixed to a word or group of words already 
made interrogative by means of another particle, it has the 
effect of turning it into a rhetorical question. Thus the 
question ' Do pigs fly ? ' asked for information, would be 
Buta tobu ka ; but spoken ironically it would be Buta tobu 
ka wa. Further examples of this construction are 
kaku medetakarubeki hito to who would have thought he 

wa tare ka wa omoishi would be such a splendid 

sokoi naki fuchi ya wa sawagu is a bottomless pool turbu- 
itsu ka wa yuki no kiyuru does the snow ever melt ? 

toki aru 

In the literature of the Heian period, but apparently not 

before, wa is found qualifying a whole sentence, thus : 

kono oya wa kindachi-be nado his parents must have been 

ni ya ariken, chujo nado wo noble, for they had, it would 

ko ni motariken wa seem, a son who was a 



The two sentences in the above example may be regarded 
as independent. In the following, wa is suffixed to a depen- 
dent clause : 

kono hana usenikeru wa ika as to the disappearance of 
ni kaku wa nusumaseshi zo these flowers, how did you 

let them be stolen in this 



na zo no kuruma zo kuraki was it thy carriage, hasten- 
hodo ni isogitsuru wa ing in the dark ? 

The construction is not important, except in so far as it 
shows how the use of wa as a conjunctive particle may have 

Not much light is thrown upon the early development of 
wa by a study of archaic writings. As wa is often in the 
texts of the Manyoshu represented by ^, some etymologists 
have contended that it originally meant mono, 'a thing', 
which is also so written. But the use of ^ is clearly an 
imitation of Chinese practice, and wa, moreover, is frequently 
represented by other characters, such as $£. Obviously wa 
is one of the earliest elements in the language and it is idle 
to conjecture its origin. Already in the period covered by 
the Kojiki its uses are fully established. The following 
examples are given to show this rather than to illustrate its 
development : 

tabi wa yuku tomo (M.) although I go on a journey 

sora wa yukazu ashi yo yuku we are not going through the 

na (K.) sky, we are going on foot 

waga seko wa kario tsukurasu since my lover has no grass 

kusa nakuba (M.) wherewith to build a hut 

bmikoto wa uketamau (Res.) I hearken to the August word 

hito yori wa imo zo mo ashiki my sister is worse than others 


kaku wa aredomo (Res.) though it is thus 

That the Chinese use of ^ was familiar to the Japanese 
scholars at an early period is shown by Mr. Yamada,who quotes 
from old texts such examples as H f f | V& fH" -& 
meaning 'The Three Treasures are the Buddha, the Law, 
and the Priesthood', which in Japanese would naturally be 
rendered Sampo wa, &c. 


MO may best be regarded as complementary to wa, for where 
wa excludes one thing from other things, mo includes one 
thing with other things. Thus : 

home wa ari means 'there is rice, apart from other things', 

kome mo ari means 'there is rice, as well as other things'. 

It may therefore usually be translated by 'also', 'too', or 
'even'. Where mo occurs after both of two substantives it 
can best be rendered by 'both . . . and' or 'neither . . . nor'. 

yorokobi mo nageki mo both joy and grief 

sumi mo fude mo nashi there is neither ink nor pen 

In common with other particles of this group, mo can be 
affixed to substantives or substantival groups with or with- 
out case particles, to adverbs, verbs, and complete sentences. 
Thus : 

Sanada e yukite haha ni mo go to Sanada and tell both 
nyobo ni mo mbse my mother and my wife 

kakan to mo kakaji to mo whether you write or not 

kakaru hito ari to mo mishiri- nor did they appear to recog- 
taru keshiki mo nashi nize even that there was 

such a person 
nishiki no koromo yori mo to- more precious even than gar- 

toku ments of brocade 

idzuku made mo on tomo sen I will go with thee whither- 
soever (thou goest) 
i mo todome kiri mo todome yo shoot him, stab him, finish 

him in either way ! 

Like wa, mo is affixed to sentence adverbs, with an emphasis 
of their meaning, e. g. mata mo, 'once more', kanarazushimo, 
'certainly', moshimo, 'if perchance', &c. 

An interesting illustration of the opposition of wa and mo 
is furnished by their use with interrogative particles. Thus : 

kuru ya wa shirazu means ' I do not know whether he will 

come, but I think not' 
kuru ya mo shirazu means ' I do not know whether he will 

come, but I think he will' 

When suffixed to interrogative pronouns mo gives them 
an inclusive significance. Thus : 


tare, 'who', but tare mo, 'anybody', 'everybody' 

nani, ' what ', but nani mo, ' anything ' 

itsu, ' when ', but itsu mo, ' always ' 

idzure, 'which', but idzure mo, 'both', 'all' 

ZO is an emphatic particle which cannot be represented in 
English by any one word. It appears also in the form so, and 
is probably nothing but the demonstrative root (='that') 
contained in sore, sono, &c. It is similar in meaning to wa, 
but carries a stronger emphasis. 'Indeed' will sometimes 
render it, but more frequently it can be represented by an 
oral stress or by an emphatic arrangement of words in 
English. It must be remembered that, as has been already 
pointed out, Japanese having no regular tonic accent (or at 
least a very slight one) there is a lack of cadences in long 
sentences, which is to some extent remedied by the use of 
emphatic particles. Moreover, Japanese prose is almost con- 
tinuous, having no punctuation and relying largely upon 
grammatical devices to show the inter-relation between parts 
of a sentence. The length of the sentences in Japanese, 
combined with the fact that the order of words is susceptible 
of little or no change, explains the frequent use of other 
methods of emphasis. Moreover, though we are apt to 
assume that, in any language, each word must have some 
significance, it is not always true. Often we find words 
introduced for the sake of euphony or rhythm, and few of 
us are as economical in using the tokens of speech as we are 
in spending the tokens of wealth. In the following sentence 
the word zo is obviously inserted for purposes of rhythm : 

konnichi kinrai Kyb-warambe crying 'I am he who is 

made no sata su naru Heike known in these days to the 

no mikata ni Etchu Zehshi very children of the streets 

ga jinan Shimosa Akushi- as the ally of the Heike, the 

chihyoe Kagekiyo to nanorite second son of Etchu Zenshi, 

June ni zo nori ni keri (HK.) Akushichihyoe Kagekiyo ! ' 

he got aboard the boat 

Zo has sometimes an expletive force, at the end of a sen- 
tence, as in aru zo ! ' yes, there are ! ', in reply to the suggestion 
'there are not'. In me no mau zo hiza no furuu zo, 'my 
head swims, my knees tremble', zo is an interjection. 



The following examples from early literature show its 
emphatic value, which is rendered in English by a significant 
word-order : 

ware nomi zo kimi ni wa ko- 

uru (M.) 
hima naku zo ame wa furi- 

keru (M.) 
saka no ue ni zo aru (M.) 
oya no kokoro yasume-shidzu- 

mete zo mata ide ni keri 

kore zo tadashiki mono nari 

it is I alone who yearn for 

my Lord 
without cease did the rain 

at the top of the hill it is 
it was not until he had 

calmed his parents' fears 

that he went out again 
it is this which is the correct 


To zo is generally used when reporting some astonishing 
or noteworthy statement : 

hito wo kuu jinshu mo ari to 

kono fue woba ware usetaran 

toki wa kanarazu hitsugi ni 

ireyo to made oserarekeri to 


they say there are even some 
races which eat men ! 

he is even reported to have 
said, 'When I die be sure 
to put this flute in my 

Zo appears to serve sometimes as an interrogative particle, 
but it will be found as a rule that an interrogation is already 
explicit or implicit in the sentence, and the force of zo is to 
press the question home : 

ko wa ika ni narinuru yo no 

naka zo 
are wa nani naru hito zo 

what, pray, is the world 

coming to ? 
what people are those, tell 

me ? 

who is that man ? 
whose head is this ? 

ano hito wa ta so 
kore wa ta ga kubi zo 

In the Nara and early Heian periods so, in preference to zo, 
is found with the interrogative pronoun ta. 

It seems likely that the so used to emphasize the negative 
imperative, as in na yuki so, ' do not go ! ' is the same as 
the emphatic particle zo. 

Zo, in common with other adverbial particles, modifies 
under certain conditions the form of the principal verb in 
the clause in which it occurs. Thus, according to the strict 


m m 


rule of Japanese syntax, we must not write kore wa yoshi but 
kore zo yoki, the use of zo throwing the final predicative word 
into an attributive form. The rule is no longer observed in 
the colloquial, and is sometimes neglected in the written 

NAN or namu is an emphatic particle, which seems to belong 
to the latter part of the Nara period. Its meaning is impos- 
sible to render in translation, and it can be best explained 
as conveying an emphasis somewhat weaker than that of zo 
and koso. In early texts it appears in the form namo, and 
it is possibly only a combination of the particles na and mo 
in their exclamatory use. The following are examples : 

shiroki katachi wo namo mi rejoiced to see a white shape 

yorokoberu (Res.) 

Hitomaro nan uta no hijiri Hitomaro was the Sage of 

narikeru (Kokin. Pref.) Poetry 

It will be noticed that, like zo, nan throws the final verb 
into the attributive instead of the conclusive form. 

Nan, particularly in the Nara period, appears as a termina- 
tion of verbs in the imperfect form, and gives the verb a 
certain desiderative sense, thus : 

kora wa awanamo (M.) would I could meet my 

children ! 
uguisu . . . nakiwataranamu may the warbler fly across 
(M.) singing 

It is possible that this is a survival of an obsolete verb nu, 
in its future form na-mu. 

Nan is not found in modern prose. 

DANI, SURA, and SAE are adverbial particles of very 
much the same significance. The differentiation was a task 
such as the early Japanese grammarians undertook with 
remarkable zest, but their rulings have never been followed 
by ordinary men, and dani and sura are now used indis- 
criminately. For practical purposes both dani and sura can 
be taken to correspond with 'at least', 'as much as', 'even', 
according to the nature of the phrase in which they occur. 
Examples are : 


ame dani furazuba yukubeshi 

ichi nichi dani kokoroyasuku 

okuru hi wa nashi 
ima shibashi dani owasenan 
ichi monji dani shiranu mono 

sa naki dani . . . 



I will go, at least if there is 

no rain 
not so much as a single day 

do I pass free from care 
stay, if only a little longer ! 
people who know not even a 

single letter 
if not, then at least . . . 

Dani is found in the form damo, which presumably stands 
for dani mo. E. g. Hijiri ni Koshi da mo orazu, 'Even Con- 
fucius is not among the Saints'. 

Dani corresponds roughly to the colloquial demo in such 
phrases as kodomo ni de mo dekiru, 'even a child can do it'. 


kinju sura on wo shim 

ransei nite sura shikari ma- 
shite taihei no toki ni oite wo 

Buppd imada waga kuni ni 
tsutawarazu myoji wo sura 
kiku koto nakariki 

the very beasts feel gratitude 
it is so even in troubled times 
— the more so then in times 
of peace 
The teaching of Buddha had 
not yet been brought to our 
country. Even the holy 
name was unknown 

If any real distinction can be drawn between dani and sura 
it is probably parallel to that between wa and koso. Dani 
is merely separative, sura is exclusive. The following com- 
parison may explain the difference : 

sono na dani shirazu I do not know even his name — 

though it would be of use to 
know it 

sono na sura shirazu I do not know even his name — 

quite apart from other things, 
which are those I want to know 

SAE means 'in addition to', 'as well as', and bears the same 
relation to mo as dani and sura bear to wa and koso. It is 
thought to be cognate with the verb soeru, ' to add ', and in 
the Manybshu it is written with the character |f[J. In the 
Kokinshu a form sae ni analogous with narabi ni, meaning 


'in addition to', is found, as in iro sae ni utsuroi ni keri, 
'the colour also faded'. Examples of sae are : 

mi sae hana sae sono ha sae e though the frost falls upon 
ni shimo furedo (M.) its branches, and on its fruit 

and on its flowers and on its 

amassae = amari +sae more than that 

This is the classical use of sae, but in later prose and speech 
it came by an easy transition from 'also' to mean 'even', 
and that is its present significance. In the modern spoken 
language it is used instead of dani and sura. 

NOMI and BAKARI are practically identical in meaning, 
having the significance of 'only', 'just so much' or 'nothing 

yoki nomi torn takes only the good ones 

ware nomi yukan I alone will go 

gakumon ni nomi fukeru is entirely absorbed in study 

kemuri to nomi zo mie looking like nothing so much 

as smoke 
yume no kokochi nomi zo su I feel only as if I were dream- 
iro no kuroki bakari wo erabu chooses only the black ones 
ne no toki bakari ni just at the Hour of the Rat 

koe bakari koso mukashi the voice alone is the voice 

narikere of old 

Okura Kyb bakari mimi toki there is nobody so hard of 
hito wa nashi hearing as the Lord High 


It will be seen that bakari has the sense of 'as much as', 
and expresses degree. This is consistent with its derivation 
from hakaru, ' to measure '. It has been noticed already that 
Japanese has no special form for expressing degree or com- 
parison, and relies for this purpose on words like nomi and 
bakari. Thus : 

as much as this kore bakari 

kore hodo 
less than this kore yori sukunaku 

more than this kore yori bku 


Other words of this nature are SHIKA and DAKE. It 
is pretty certain that dake is related to take, 'length', and 
it is used to signify measure as in kore dake, 'this much'. 
Like bakari it is often, by extension, used with the meaning 
'only', as in futatsu dake, 'only two', i. e. as many as, but 
no more than, two. 

Shika is a similar word, used chiefly in the colloquial, and 
with a negative, as in kore shika arimasen, ' there is only this 
much '. It is presumably the same as the adverb shika, ' so '. 

NADO is usually described as a particle expressing number, 
but its use is adverbial, and it has the meaning of 'such as' 
or 'and so on'. Hana tsuki nado means 'flowers, the moon, 
and suchlike things', not 'flowers and moons'. Moreover, 
in the Heian period nado is found following plural suffixes, 
as in Tsubone domo nado, which means 'Court Ladies and 
others'. It occurs in contexts where it cannot even mean 
et cetera, such as 

miyako e nado mukaemairase going, say, to the Capital to 

meet him 

Its modern use is, however, confined to expressing a meaning 
like that of et cetera. 

MADE has already been mentioned as a case particle, but 
in strict classification perhaps it should be regarded as 
adverbial. In common with other adverbial particles it can 
follow a case particle, 

kodomo ni made ataeru to give even to the children 
or precede a case particle, 

kuru made ni by the time he comes 

or modify a verb, 

hana to miru made as far as seeing them as flowers 

though in the two last examples kuru and miru are sub- 
stantival forms. 

NAGARA means 'while', as in yuki nagara, 'while going', 
and it has the same adversative meaning as 'while' or 
'whilst' in English. Thus shikashi nagara, lit. 'while it is 
so', is the equivalent of 'nevertheless'. 


The derivation of nagara from the substantive kara has 
already been explained under yori above. 

KA is an interrogative particle. In Japanese a question is 
formed not by a change in word-order but by placing an 
interrogative particle after the appropriate word. Thus, 
yuku, 'he goes', yuku ka, 'does he go ? ' The particle ka 
appears in the earliest texts. 

tare shi no yakko ka (Res.) which of Our subjects ? 

itsuku yo ka imo ga irikite whence did my mistress en- 

yume ni mietsuru (M.) ter, that I saw her in my 

dream ? 
yo no naka wa tsune kaku is the world always only 

nomi ka (M.) thus ? 

The interrogative particle does not necessarily come at the 
end of a sentence, and its significance varies with its position. 
Thus tare iru ka means ' who is there ? ' while tare ka iru 
means 'somebody is there'. When ka is suffixed directly to 
a final verb, that verb takes the attributive and not the 
conclusive form, as in : 

nami wa yorikeru ka (M.) have the waves approached ? 

Where ka precedes the verb in the clause which it effects, it 
also throws that verb into the attributive form, thus : 

tare shi no yakko ka waga which of Our subjects has 
mikado wo somukite shika thus rebelled against Our 
sum (Res.) Throne ? 

where we have suru instead of su. 

YA is an interrogative particle, similar to ka, as will be seen 
from the following examples : 

yama no na nomi ya kikitsu- is he perchance hearing only 

tsu oramu (M.) the names of mountains ? 

ame no shita no koto wo ya shall I easily perform the 

tayasuku okonawamu (Res.) task of (governing the King- 
dom) under Heaven ? 

ware hitori ya wa . . . uke shall We alone receive ? 
tamawaramu (Res.) 

Ya, unlike ka, if it follows the final verb of a clause, usually 


does not affect that verb, which preserves its conclusive 
form : 

tadzu nakubeshi ya (M.) will the storks cry ? 

imo ni tsugetsu ya (M.) did they tell my mistress ? 

Where ya precedes the verb the attributive form is substi- 
tuted for the conclusive, as in the case of ka. 

It is difficult to state the distinction between ya and ka ; 
but, while both could serve the same purpose, ya seems to 
have been reserved, in the Nara period, for rhetorical ques- 
tions, and it is found rather more frequently than ka in 
combination with other particles (as in ya mo, ya wa x ) with 
a special exclamatory force, e. g. : 

ware hitori ya wa (Res.) we alone ? (Inviting the an- 
swer, No.) 

imo nurame ya mo (M.) will my mistress sleep ? (mean- 
ing ' could she but sleep ! ') 

A special use of the interrogative particles appears in Nara 
period texts which is of interest because it shows them acting 
as conjunctives in the same way as other adverbial particles. 
It seems to arise from a locution illustrated in the last 
example and in 

ware wasurure ya (Res.) have I forgotten ? 

iwarenu mono ni are ya (Res.) is it a thing not to be 

spoken ? 

which are rhetorical questions, expecting the answer ' No '. 
Here, it will be noticed, the verb is not in the ordinary con- 
clusive but in the perfect form. The above examples contain 
ya, and in the case of ya this construction is found with all 
verbs in their simple conjugation, with the auxiliary verb 
aru and with future conjugations in mu. Strangely enough, 
the only examples of ka in this construction are found with 
future forms in mu, of the type arame ka, yukame ka, &c. 

Where clauses constructed in this way form part of a 
compound sentence, their effect is to express a condition, 
as in 

kokoro sae kie-usetare ya koto no doubt because his love 
mo kayowanu (M.) has faded, no tidings come 

1 Ka wa does not appear in Nara texts. 


Here, it will be seen, the combination of the perfect form 
usetare and the particle ya acts as a conjunction between 
clauses. The usage is exactly parallel with the conjunctive 
use of other particles, upon which it throws an interesting 
light. If we substitute the particle wa (in its form ba) for 
ya, we have usetareba, 'because it has faded' ; and if we 
substitute to (in its form do), we have usetaredo, 'though it 
has faded'. Similarly we can find in early texts parallel 
forms with zo and koso, of the type usetare zo, usetare koso. 

The special effect of ka and ya in these constructions is to 
introduce a slight element of doubt, so that whereas usetare 
ya means 'perhaps because it has faded', usetareba means 
simply 'because it has faded'. Further examples of this 
construction (which is not used in modern prose) are : 

kami nakare ya . . . waga because, I suppose, there are 
tsuma sakaru (M.) no gods, I am parted from 

my wife 

maitsutsu kami here ka mo O ! the joyfulness of this beer 
kono miki no . . . tanushi sa — because we danced as we 
sa (K.) brewed it ! 

In the modern language ka is used to the exclusion of ya in 
everyday speech. In modern prose the distinction between 
the conclusive and attributive forms of verbs followed by ka 
or ya is not usually observed. The interrogative particles 
are not necessary after interrogative pronouns. Thus tare 
ga kita is as correct as tare ga kita ka. It should be noticed 
that the interrogative particles when directly suffixed to 
interrogative pronouns considerably modify their meaning, 

dochira where ? dochira ka somewhere 

tare who ? dare ka somebody 

ikura how much ? ikura ka a certain amount 

These should be compared with such combinations as dochira 

mo, tare mo, &c. 


This class consists of the particles wa (usually in the form 
ba in combination), to (usually in the form do in combina- 
tion), ga, ni, and wo. Further, though this is not the classi- 


fication of such Japanese grammarians as Yamada and 
Otsuki, I think that both mo and ka should also be included 
under this heading, for reasons stated below. Kara and yori 
are also used as conjunctives. 

It will be seen that in form these particles are identical 
with the principal particles already discussed. They are, in 
fact, the same particles, and their conjunctive use is but 
a natural development of the primary functions. It is, how- 
ever, so specialized that one is justified as regarding them 
for this purpose as a distinct group, the more so as it is 
a purpose which they serve only in regard to sentences and 
not to dependent words. This conjunctive use is illustrated 
by the following examples : 

tenki yokereba yukubeshi as the weather is good I 

shall go 
tenki yokuba yukan if the weather is good I 

shall go 
yuki furedo samukarazu although it is snowing it 

is not cold 

Here the particles ba and do (i. e. wa and to) take the place 
of those English conjunctions which connect sentences, such 
as 'though', 'if, and 'as'. They are indeed the only words 
in Japanese which can thus connect sentences, for in all 
other cases the nexus between two clauses resides in the 
form of one of them. Thus : 

hana saki tori naki flowers bloom and birds sing 

where the equivalent of the conjunctive 'and' is in the con- 
junctive form saki, a sort of gerund of the verb saku. 

The term Conjunctive Particle seems therefore to be 
accurately descriptive. It corresponds with the name setsu- 
zoku joshi used by Mr. Yamada, and thus has the sanction 
of a good authority. 

BA is an 'impure' (nigori) form of the particle ha or wa. 
In the Manybshu it is written indifferently $£, §$ and ^, 
and was therefore certainly interchangeable with ha or wa. 
It connects sentences in one of two ways, according to the 
form of the inflected word which it follows : 

1. With the future or negative base form (the ' Imperfect ') 
wo N n 


of a verb or adjective it denotes a future or hypothetical 
condition, of the type 

ho araba otsu aran if there is A there will be B 

It seems likely that this idiom is a contraction of aran wa 
which, consistently with the separative value of wa, would 
mean 'In the case of there being, in the future'. But it is 
of course not impossible that ba was from the beginning 
suffixed direct to the base of verbs. The following are 
examples of the use of this form : 

shio no haya hiba asari shi ni if the tide falls quickly we 
iden (M.) will go gathering shellfish 

uguisu no tani yori idzuru if there were not the war- 
koe nakuba (K.) bier's cry issuing from the 

yachi yo shi neba ya aki toki O ! if I could but sleep (with 
aran her) eight thousand nights, 

should I grow tired ! 

There is no distinction in form between a future, not yet 
realized, condition and a purely hypothetical one, so that 
araba, for instance, may be translated, according to context, 
by 'when' as well as 'if. 

The elliptical use of ba, usually followed by an interrogative 
particle, to express a wish, has already been noted. Thus : 

torikaebaya could I but change it ! 

satobito ni wadzuka ni nozo- if only I could let the folks 
kasebaya (Makura) at home have a peep ! 

2. With the perfect form of verbs, ba represents an actual, 
and not an unrealized, condition of the type 

ko areba otsu ari as or when there is A there is B 

This use cannot occur with adjectives, because they have no 
perfect form, but by combining adjectives with the auxiliary 
verb ari such forms as yokereba (=yoku areba), 'as it is 
good ', can be constructed. 

The history of this form (perfect +ba) is interesting. In 
the Nara period we find the perfect standing alone to express 
an actual, realized condition : 

kogane ari to moshi tamaere as they said there was gold, 
kokoro akirame (Res.) we were relieved 


It is also found followed by particles other than ba, e. g. zo, 
koso, ya, and ka (q.v.). Thus : 

nochi mo awamu to omoe koso because I think to meet thee 

tsuyu no inochi mo tsugitsu- again I cling to this fleeting 

tsu life 

ametsuchi no kami wa nakare is it because there are no 

ya uruwashiki waga tsuma gods of heaven or earth that 

sakaru I am parted from my lovely 

mate ? 

These examples seem to indicate that the perfect form had 
at one time an independent existence, and a certain tense- 
significance. The use of a perfect-tense form in such cases 
as the above is quite logical, since the second condition does 
not arise until the first is complete. Early examples of the 
conditional with ba are : 

ito aware nareba kuruma wo as it was very impressive he 
tatete nagamuru ni (Yamato) stopped his carriage and 

looked . . . 

kaze fukeba June idasazu as the wind is blowing we do 

(Tosa) not put out the boat 

In familiar modern speech the distinction between a 
realized and a hypothetical condition is not always observed. 
Usually areba is employed to mean 'if there is', although 
strictly speaking it means ' as there is '. So with other verbs. 
The spoken idiom usually prefers a construction employing 
some word like kara or tame, to represent 'as' or 'because'. 
Thus, kaze ga fuku kara or kaze ga fuku tame ni, ' Because 
the wind is blowing'. In prose also frequent use is made of 
tame, yue ni, to mean 'since' or 'because', and aida |Q is 
common in the epistolary style : 

kaze fuku tame ni 

kaze fuku yue ni 

kaze fuku (or fuki soro) aida 

all stand for 'because the wind is blowing'. 
In prose the word yori is used instead of kara. 

TO as a conjunctive particle has a significance almost directly 
opposite to that of ba. Instead of correlating two conditions 
it serves to contrast them, as in sentences of the type : 


ye m kaku to fade oyobaji though you paint it your 

brush will not succeed 

It is most frequently found together with mo, in the sense 
of 'even though', 'although'. 

kaesugaesu miru tomo miru- though you look and look 
tomo akumaji (G.) again and again it will not 


It is notable that the very common colloquial use of to is the 
exact opposite : 

hon wo yomu to zutsu ga suru when I read a book I get a 


On the other hand tomo (and to, to a less extent) is used 
with adversative force in the spoken language accompanying 
the future of verbs, as 

shino to (mo) kamawan even if I die, I don't care 

ashikaro tomo yarn even if it 's bad, I'll do it 

nani ga koyo tomo osorenai I'm not afraid, whatever may 


This use with the future bears out the supposition that ara-ba 
derives from the future aran +wa. Also it seems to show 
that the adversative force really resides in the mo of tomo, 
and that the use of to alone is elliptical. The form tomo is 
much the more common at all periods. 

Mr. Yamada (Heian Bumfto-shi) suggests that to in many 
such cases indicates time, and he cites, among other ex- 
amples, the following from the Nihongi : uma ineshi to ni 
niwatsutori naku, ' the cock crows when the horse has gone 
to sleep', where to seems to stand for toki. 

DO is the ' impure ' sound of to, when in combination. Fol- 
lowing the perfect form of a verb it has a significance directly 
opposed to that of ba after the same form, as in sentences 
of the type : 

ko aredo otsu nashi though there is A there is not B 

The combination domo is frequent in the same sense. 

NI, GA, and WO in their capacity as conjunctive particles 
are generally used to co-ordinate two propositions of actual 
fact. The development of a conjunctive use from the use 


as a case particle is best illustrated by ni. It is not a long 
step from 

ko ni otsu A along with B 

ko aru ni otsu ari along with there being A there is B 

Such a sentence as it stands is a mere assertion. It simply 
states the coexistence of A and B, but does not assume that 
B is contingent upon A, or that their coexistence is expected 
or unexpected. That is to say, ni does not in theory carry 
any adversative force. But since, as a rule, when two pro- 
positions are placed side by side they are naturally con- 
trasted, an adversative force has been gradually acquired by 
ni. A parallel in English is perhaps furnished by ' I ask for 
bread and you give me a stone', where 'and', because of its 
context, has an adversative force. Further examples of this 
use of ni are as follows. It will be seen that the verb or 
adjective to which it is attached is always in the substantival 
form, as would be expected from its true function as a case 

kore wo miru ni Nakamaro seeing this, they knew what 
ga kokoro no . . . sama shi- the heart of Nakamaro was 
rinu (Res.) like 

kogane wa kono kuni ni naki whereas it was thought that 
mono to omoeru ni . . . Oda- in this land there was no 
nokori . . . (ni ari) (Res.) gold, (it is found) in Odano- 


kuraki ni hay a oki-idzuru hito although dark, there are al- 
ari ready people getting up and 

going out 

toshi imada rokuju ni mita- though, not having reached 
zaru ni sakari to koso mie sixty years of age, he seemed 
tamaishi ni harukasumi to to be in his prime, he faded 
kienikeri away like the mists of 


This last example shows ni used with and without an ad- 
versative force in the same sentence. Perhaps a sentence 
like hi teru ni ame furu best illustrates the idiom under 
discussion. In English this is 'while the sun is shining the 
rain is falling', and the adversative element resides not so 


much in the word 'while' as in the nature of the two con- 
trasted statements. 

The colloquial makes a similar use of ni, as in Maneita ni 
konai, 'I invited him and yet he doesn't come'. The com- 
bination no ni is more frequent : hayaku kureba ii no ni 
mada konai, 'he ought to have come early, and he hasn't 
come yet'. 

With a conjunctive adverb such as moshi, 'if, ni can be 
used to express a condition : 

moshi tsune ni haibutsu no if people would always pay 
riyb wo kokorogaken ni wa attention to the disposal of 
kanarazu sono ybto wo hak- waste products they could 
ken suru wo ubeshi certainly discover a use for 


In such cases the future of the verb is generally required. 

GA is not found as a conjunctive particle in the earliest 
literature. It seems to have developed a conjunctive use 
from such statements as Kawa ni ochishi ga oyogi-ezu, 'he 
who fell into the river could not swim', which come to mean 
'he fell into the river but he could not swim'. The function 
of ga as a conjunctive is, as with ni, a natural development 
from its use as a case particle. It co-ordinates but does not 
necessarily contrast two propositions. The following are 
examples of the conjunctive use : 

socho yori suguretaru meii having learned that a fa- 
honcho e watarite shinobite mous physician from the 
miyako e noborikeru ga . . . Sung Court, who had secret- 
Imadzu ni tsukite soro yoshi ly crossed over to Japan 
wo uketamawareba isogi me- and gone up to the capital, 
shitsukawashi sorainu (HK.) had reached Imadzu, I has- 
tily sent for him 

kyushi wa tdji Berurin no his old teacher, who was at 
am chugaku no kbchb nari- that time the headmaster of 
shi ga kono ho ni sesshite a middle school in Berlin, on 
tadachi ni kare wo toitari hearing this news at once 

called upon him 

In neither of the above examples has ga any adversative 
force. It merely helps to form what in English becomes 
a relative sentence. 



though there were many 
spectators the goods did not 
sell well 

though I called several times 
I could not get an interview 

kembutsu-nin wa amata arishi 
ga shdhin wa yoku urezu 

shibashiba toitaru ga menkwai 
wo ezu 

Here there is an adversative element, but it resides in the 
nature of the statements contrasted. 

In modern prose of the genbun itchi or semi-colloquial type 
ga does as a rule stand for ' but '. It is even sometimes found 
at the beginning of a sentence, thus : 

kono giron wa keicho sum this argument is not without 

kachi ga nai de mo nai. Ga some title to respect. But 

kokyo no shisetsu wo tokan it does not explain the pub- 

ni shite wa naranu ... lie arrangements . . . 

WO as a conjunctive particle is found only in the written 
language. Its use is the same as that of ni and ga, and it 
has doubtless developed in the same way. The following 
examples will be sufficient to explain it : 

wataran to nomi omou wo though they thought of no- 
thing but crossing, the 
waves and wind showed no 
sign of abating 
though I desire to report 
fully upon his condition, 
while you are waiting night 
will fall 

kaze nami tomo ni yamubeku 
mo arazu (Tosa) 

kuwashiku on arisama mo 
soshi haberamahoshiki wo 
machi owashimasuran wo yo 

fukehaberinubeshi (G.) 

akenuru wo 
kumo ni idzuko ni 
tsuki yadoruran 

Here wo has in one place an adversative value, in another not. 

Natsu no yo wa on summer evenings 

mada yoi nagara since it grows light 

while it is still night 
where in the clouds 
does the moon take lodging ? 

In the following modern example : 

sekitan yori shozuru abura no gotoki kuroki shiru wo muyo 

no mono to shite haiki shitarishi wo ima wa kore yori 

yakuhin senryo to wo seishutsu suru ni itareri 

it will be seen that wo retains some of its value as a case 

particle but has an adversative sense. The translation is : 


'the black oily liquid produced by coal was thrown away 
as useless, but now we have come to manufacture from this 
chemical dyes, &c.' 

ante furu wo kasa nashi ni he goes without an umbrella 

idzu although it is raining 

mono takaki wo hitsu mo yo- the things are dear, yet they 

karazu are of bad quality 

A development of this use of wo is found in the expression 
mono wo used as follows : 

machishi mono wo nado kita- seeing that I waited, why 

zarishi didn't you come ? 

anna ni tanomu mono wo ki- you might as well consent 

ite kurete mo yokaro (Coll.) seeing that he begs so hard 

Both KA and YA, as well as the emphatic particles zo 
nan and koso, are found acting as conjunctives. Details as 
regards their early uses in this way will be found under their 
respectiveheadings. The following examples are from modern 
newspaper language, and show ka acting as a conjunctive : 

moshi karera no to wo kyiijo if assistance is given to such 
sen ka kaette sono iraishin people as these, there is a 
wo zocho seshimuru osore na- danger that it may simply 
ki ni arazu increase their feeling of de- 


moshi Nihon no toshi ni do- suppose there had been an 
itsu teido no jishin aritaran earthquake of the same di- 
to sen ka, shisha no su wa mensions in a Japanese city, 
sono shihyaku bun no ichi ni the number of deaths would 
mo tassezarishi naran not have amounted to one 

four-hundredth of this 

MO, as we have seen, serves as a conjunctive along with to, 
in the form tomo. It can also stand alone with the same 
value, in sentences of the type kb aru mo otsu nashi, ' though 
there is (or may be) A there is not B\ 


In the Nara period we find the following used as inter- 
jections or exclamatory particles : 

ya, wo, yo, na, shi, i, ye, ro, ra. 


It is difficult to draw a line between these particles and 
others. It will be seen that some of them, WO for instance, 
have other functions, and it seems probable that some at 
least of the other particles are words which, used originally 
in a vague, exclamatory or emphatic sense, have developed 
a specialized function. WO is almost certainly an illustra- 
tion of this feature. The early uses of the particles in the 
above list are as follows : 

1. YA appears as a vocative particle, as in 

nase no ko ya (M.) O ! my child 

Yachihoko no kami no Mikoto O ! August Deity of the 
ya (K.) Myriad Spears 

(This usage is still current : Yasu ya\ ' Hi ! Yasu ') 

and as a mere interjection in such cases as 

ante nam ya ototanabata (K.) Oh ! Weaver in the Sky 
oso ya kono kimi (M.) How foolish this wight ! 

It is pretty clear that the use of ya as an interrogative 
particle is merely a development of its exclamatory use. It 
is found as a rule only in rhetorical questions, or in state- 
ments expressing doubt or surprise. Thus in 

ware hitori ya wa totoki shi- shall I alone receive the pre- 
rushi wo uketamawamu ? cious Token? 


the question is rhetorical. In 

ie ya mo idzuku (M.) the house, where is it ? 

the interrogative force resides in idzuku. In koreya to omou, 
'I think it is this, maybe', ya expresses doubt. It is this 
use which gives us such phrases as oya ya shinrui, ' parents 
or relations'. It must be remembered that where ya (or ka) 
occurs in a sentence with an interrogative and not a purely 
exclamatory value it affects the form of the final verb, which 
assumes the substantive and not the attributive form. This 
may be taken as a further indication that the interrogative 
sense is not inherent in ya, but had to be reinforced by some 
syntactical device. 

2. WO, as has been already pointed out, appears in the 
*<° o o 


earliest texts as an interjection. Perhaps the oldest example 
is that found in one of the Kojiki songs : 

sono yaegaki wo O ! that manifold fence 

It is not possible to trace its transition from an emphatic to 
a case particle, but it is easy to see how it may have occurred. 

3. YO is a common interjection in the modern language. 
In the earliest texts it is usually found associated with mo, 
as in 

a wa mo yo (K.) I ! 

ko mo yo miko mochi , fugushi and a basket! She has a 
moyo, mi fugushi mochi (M.) fine basket. And a trowel ! 

She has a fine trowel 

while such groups as mo ga mo yo are found, e. g. midzu ni 
mo ga mo yo ! (M.) = 'O ! to be the water'. 

After substantives, and after the conclusive form of verbs, 
yo is purely inter jectional, and cannot be distinguished from 
ya. (It is used as a vocative in the same way, e. g. Jinta 
yo ! ' Jinta ! ') 

Its most interesting function, however, is in imperative or 
permissive locutions, such as 

ika ni se yo to (M.) do what you will 
na koi so yo (M.) do not love 

kinakite yo (M.) come and sing 

The imperative is not formed by the particle yo, but 
emphasized by it. The earliest imperative forms are found 
without yo. In the medieval language the imperative is 
almost invariably found without yo in verbs of the first con- 
jugation — thus we have yuke, 'go ! ' kase, 'lend ! ' — but with 
verbs of the other conjugations, the imperative is usually 
formed by the addition of yo to the conjunctive form, as in 
tabe yo, ' eat ! ' The irregular verb suru has the form seyo, 
quoted above. 

4. NA at the end of a sentence after nouns or verbs in the 
conclusive form is purely exclamatory. Thus hana wa chi- 
ramu na (M.), 'the flowers will fade ! ' In combination with 
other particles it helps to express special meanings usually 
desiderative or mildly imperative, e.g. moga na, shiga na. 
Na is a common interjection in the modern language. 



5. SHI is frequent in the earliest texts, as an emphatic 
particle, as will be seen from the following examples : 

he indeed who will await you 

is sad 

I can but weep 
a peaceful sleep I do not 

that it will be thus through 

the ages 

kimi wo matsuramu hito shi 

kanashi mo (M.) 
ne nomi shi nakayu (M.) 
yasui shi nasanu (M.) 

yorozu yo ni shika shi aramu 
to (M.) 

It is usually represented by the character ;£ 'this', and its 
significance resembles that of zo or koso in the later language. 
It is interesting to notice that it can follow most parts of 
speech. We find it, for instance, after other particles (michi 
wa shi) and after verbs (tsukae matsureba shi, yorite shi) , and 
it occurs in combinations with other particles such as shi mo, 
shi zo, shi wa, shi koso, yo shi, ya shi, i shi, &c. It is now 
practically obsolete. 

6. I is an obsolete emphatic particle, which appears to 
have acted as a case particle, denoting the subject. In early 
texts, where it is regularly written ffi (in particular the 
Rescripts), it occurs frequently. E. g. : 

wakugo i fue Juki noboru (N .) the 

seki mori i todometen ka 

mo . . . (M.) 
Fujiwara no Asomi mar or a i 

. . . kame hitotsu tatematsu- 

raraku (Res.) 
Nara Maro Koma Maro i 

sakashima nam tomogara wo 

izanai . . . (Res.) 
Nakamaro i tadashiki omi to 

shite haberitsu (Res.) 
ko wo tamotsu i wa homare 

wo itashi sutsuru i wa soshiri 

young one comes up 
blowing a flute 

shall the warden of the Bar- 
rier stop . . . 

Fu j iwara no Asomi and others 
. . . have offered a tortoise 

Nara Maro and Koma Maro 
leading on wicked accom- 
plices . . . 

Nakamaro was a loyal sub- 

to cherish children is to gain 
praise, to abandon them is 
to invite abuse 

wo manekitsu (Res.) 

Some Japanese grammarians argue that i definitely indicates 
a nominative case. 
The use of i persisted during and after the Nara period, 


and Mr. Yamada states that in the scriptures of the earliest 
Buddhist sects in Japan (i. e. the Hossd) a special dia- 
critic marking for i is found, used to denote the subject of 
a sentence when the Chinese text is read according to 
Japanese syntax. He gives examples of early systems of 
diacritic markings {ten — v. under o koto ten, p. 8) which 
provide for this particle. 

7. YE is uncommon, and may be only a variation of ya. 
Examples of its use are : 

ware wa sabushi ye (M.) I am lonely ! 

kurushi ye (N.) it is painful ! 

It is found in the combination ye ya shi, where it appears 
to be a meaningless exclamation. 

8. RO is found in the earliest texts, usually in association 
with other exclamatory particles, e. g. okimi ro ka mo (N.), 
tomoshiki ro kamo (K.). It does not appear to have any 
specialized function. It is interesting to note, however, that 
it occurs very freely in the songs in the Manyoshu (vol. 14), 
which are usually known as Adzuma uta, and in other verses 
which may be taken to represent the Eastern dialect of the 
Nara period. It may, consequently, be a dialectical varia- 
tion of yo or some other particle. Imperative x forms such 
as sero for seyo, tsukero for tsuke yo are found in these songs. 
A few examples of the use of ro are appended. 

bnu ro ni tanabiku kumo (M.) the clouds lying above the 

great plain 
omoosu na mo ro (M.) do not think 

kosuge ro no urafuku kaze the wind blowing through 
(M.) the treetops 

9. RA is uncommon ; and it is possible that its emphatic 
or exclamatory use is an extension of its use as a suffix 
(v. p. 295). In 

ko wo ra tsuma wo ra okite I have come, leaving behind 
ra mo kinu (M.) my children and my spouse 

1 Such imperatives are common in modern colloquial, e. g. tabero 
' eat ', tsukero ' put '. 


it is worth noting that the text uses the character H?, the 
sign of the plural. In 

yamai wo ra kuwaete (M.) adding sickness thereto 

ra may be emphatic, or it may give the sense of 'sickness 
and the like ' ? 

In such phrases as akara tachibana (M.), monoganashira ni 
omou (M.), sakashira wo su (M.), it is hard to say what is 
the function of ra. It is no doubt the same as the ra which 
appears in the Rituals and Rescripts in the much-debated 
phrase sumera ga mikoto ra ma to, ' according to the Divine 
word'. On the whole one may reasonably infer that ra is 
a word, or part of a word, originally denoting ' sort ' or ' kind '. 
This would account for mono ganashira ni, 'in a sad way', 
'saddishly' ; and for the plural use, ko ra, 'children and 
so on'. 

A special use of particles which characterizes the earliest known 
language deserves some notice. The particles ga, na, ni, and ne 
are used in an exclamatory way to express a wish or a hope, as 
in kakumo ga (N.), 'would it were thus', tori ni mo ga mo (M.), 
' I would I were a bird '. The usage is best explained by classified 
examples : 

(1) GA. It usually occurs in combination with other particles, 
chiefly mo : 

kanasuki mo inochi mo ga mo (K.) 

waga omou kimi wa chitose ni mo ga mo (M.) 

narabete mo ga mo (N.) 

waga inochi mo nagaku mo ga mo (N.) 

ashibiki no yama wa naku mo ga (M.) 

Notice that, when such particles or groups follow predicative 
words, the latter take the conjunctive form, with a curious 
exception, viz. the tense-suffix ki, e. g. : 

ima mo eteshiga (M.) Oh ! that I might now obtain 

mishi ga to omou (M.) I think, I wish I could see 

hibari ni nariteshiga (M.) O ! that I might become a lark 

but shi here is perhaps only an emphatic particle, and not the 
attributive form of ki. 

(2) NA is suffixed to the imperfect form of verbs, forming a 
desiderative or a mild imperative. 

iza musubite na (M.) 


asobi kurasana (M.) 
nioite yukana (M.) 
katsuki sena wa (K.) 

(3) NE appears to be interchangeable with NA . 

na norasa ne (norasu and ne) (M.) 
Isuki ni hi ni shika shi asobane (M.) 
hay a kaeri kone (M.) 
sazaki torasane (K.) 

It might be conjectured that this ne is a form of the verb suffix 
nu ; but there is no evidence for this, and the fact that we find 
it following a negative imperative is against it : 

shiohi na ariso ne (M.) let there be no falling of the tide 
yuki nafumi so ne (M.) pray do not tread the snow 

An apparent alternative form ni is found, as in moshimasa ni, 
' pray speak ! ' na kari so ni, ' O ! do not reap ! ' 

It is very difficult to account for these forms. NA is used as 
an exclamatory particle, as in hana wa chiramu na, 'Ah ! the 
flowers will fade ! ' but here it follows the conclusive form. Where 
used to express a wish, na, ne, and ni, as shown above, follow 
the imperfect. As it is the imperfect which provides a base for 
future forms, it may be that we have here an elided future, that, 
for instance, yukana is yukamu or yukan plus na. There is an 
analogy in the termination nan which is found in such phrases 
as oikaze fukanan, 'may a fair wind blow'. (Nan here must be 
distinguished from the nan following adverbial forms of verbs, 
which is simply the future of nuru (e. g. fukinan — Juki and na 
plus mu).) It seems likely that here we have a contraction of 
fukan nan, nan itself being the future of the (conjectural) obsolete 
verb nu, ' to be ', which later assumed an independent value as the 
particle nan, or namo, itself no doubt the ancestor of the modern 
colloquial na or ne. 

Summarizing the foregoing discussion it can be stated that the 
early language contained a large number of particles of an 
exclamatory or emphatic nature, not fully differentiated from 
one another, in form, meaning, or function. 

Certain combinations of particles gradually come to assume 
special meanings, and to perform syntactical functions. (As mo 
ga na, mo ga mo, shi ga, shi ga na, expressing a wish.) These 
are in time replaced by more precise locutions, as the various 
compound conjugational forms of verbs come to acquire specific 
meanings. Of the individual particles, some, such as ro, i, shi, &c, 
fall out of use. Others develop specialized functions, as is well 
illustrated by wo. This particle first serves as an interjection, 


and then becomes specialized as an emphatic particle, marking 
the objective case. Ha or wa itself was, to judge from its semantic 
development, originally exclamatory or emphatic, but is now 
specialized as an isolating particle denoting the subject of a pro- 
position, with an extended use by which it acts as a conjunctive. 
It is worth noting that wa is still used as an exclamatory particle 
in modern colloquial. Ya originally exclamatory acquires a 
dubitative or interrogative sense. Yo, a vocative particle, also 
acquires a special function as a mark of the imperative mood. 
It is possible that in mo we have the element which forms the 
old future, though there is no direct evidence of this. 

These considerations are not adduced in support of the inter- 
jectional theory of the origins of language ; but they do throw 
some light on the genesis of grammatical forms, and they show 
at least that it is dangerous to assume that all suffixes and 
flexional endings were once independent and significant words. 


THERE is considerable disagreement among Japanese 
grammarians as to the definition and classification of 
adverbs. Some have argued that there is no true adverb in 
Japanese, but only an adverbial use of other parts of speech. 
This view is difficult to uphold in the face of such words as 
mata, 'again', kedashi, 'probably', sa, 'thus', &c. 

Of adverbs in use in the Nara period the simplest are ka, 
' that way ', kaku (a derivative of ka) , ' thus ', and shika, ' so '. 
The form sa is of later development. Examples are : 

ka yuki kaku yuki (M.) going this way and that way 
shika shi asobi (M.) playing thus 

Even these elementary forms are found in combination with 
the particle ni, as in ka ni (M.), kaku ni (M.), shika ni wa 
araji (M.), and it appears that there was originally an ad- 
verb na (='how') which, combined with ni, has given the 
word nani, 'what' ; and appears in nado ( = na zo), 'why'. 
Thus : 

na ni ka omowamu (M.) how shall I think ? 

nado ka kinakanu (M.) why does it not come and sing? 

nado nakeru tame (K.) why weeping ? 

The form ika develops presumably from ka, with the meaning 
'how', and nani assumes the meaning of 'what'. Ika is 
found always in conjunction with ni or to, or in the Heian 
period in the form ikade. Thus : 

ika ni ka oyobu koto emu (Res.) how shall I attain ? 
ika to ika to aru waga yado (M.) how, how is my home ? 

There was apparently an adverb ma, which now survives in 
the compounds mama and manimani. It occurs frequently 
in the early Rescripts and the Rituals, especially in the 
phrase o mikoto ra ma, 'according to the Divine Word', 
where it is evidently already an archaism. 

The early language contains a number of onomatopoeic 


and kindred forms. They are as a rule reduplications. 
Examples are : 

sawasawa (K.), sayasaya (N.), of a rustling sound 
hodorohodoro (M.), of snow falling 
harubaru (M.), of distance 
moyura (K.), of rain falling 
korokoro (K.), of raking over salt 

Most of these adverbs are accompanied by a particle, ni or to. 
For convenience of treatment, adverbs can be classified 
roughly as follows : 

1. Adverbs modifying predicative words. These are such 
as express ideas of time, place, manner, degree, &c. Early 
forms are: ima, 'now'; imada, 'yet'; tachimachi, 'sud- 
denly'; shibashiba, 'frequently'; sude, 'already'; suna- 
wachi, 'thereupon' ; ko (conjectural), 'here' ; koko, 'here' ; 
soko, 'there', and idzuko, 'where' ; sukoburu, 'exceedingly' ; 
hanahada, ' very ' ; yaya, ' little ' ; mottomo, ' most ' ; and 
numerous onomatopoeics like sayasaya above. 

2. Adverbs modifying a proposition. Early instances are : 
kedashi, ' probably ' ; yume or yomo, ' hardly ' ; kanaradzu, 
'certainly', &c. 

3. Adverbs linking propositions, or Conjunctive Adverbs. 
Such are tadashi, 'but' ; katsu, 'further' ; hata, 'moreover' ; 
mata, 'again'. These form a logical but not a grammatical 
link between sentences. The grammatical link is in the 
specialized conjunctive forms of verbs and adjectives. 

From the examples given above it will be seen that the 
number of single words which function solely as adverbs is 
very small indeed. There are only a few, such as ika, hata, 
and kedashi, which can stand alone as adverbs and cannot 
perform the function of other parts of speech. Kedashi itself 
is probably an abbreviated form of kedashiku, found in Nara 
period texts, which is presumably the ordinary adverbial 
form of an adjective. 

A great number of adverbs in Japanese require the assis- 
tance of a particle before they can take their place in a 
sentence. Even some of the simplest early forms, like kaku, 
ika, &c, are, as has been pointed out, found with the particle 
ni ; and most echo-words require a particle. The adverbs 

3*70 p p 


denoting place invariably take the locative particle ni (koko 
ni, soko ni), those denoting time frequently do so (sude ni). 
There is further a considerable class of adverbs, of which 
akiraka ni can be taken as an example, which cannot without 
a particle convey any precise meaning. These have already 
been referred to under the heading of Uninflected Adjectives, 
where it was pointed out that these forms ending in ke, ge, 
or ka can serve as adjectives only in combination with 
suffixes like taru and naru. We thus have in each case 
a group of forms for attributive, predicative, and adverbial 
uses, of the model : 

akiraka naru, attributive, as in akiraka naru koto, ' a clear 

thing ' 
akiraka nari, predicative, as in kore wa akiraka nari, ' this 

is clear' 
akiraka ni, adverbial, as in akiraka ni miyu, 'it is seen 

clearly ' 

The constant element akiraka cannot stand alone. 

It will be seen that most adverbs in Japanese are either 
adverbial phrases or other parts of speech functioning as 
adverbs. Such a word as ima, 'now', is a noun by origin 
(ma — space) and shows its substantival character in a 
phrase like ima no yo, 'the present day'. Even the adverbs 
expressing the simplest — the least analysed — ideas, such as 
kaku, 'thus', have the character of nouns in so far as they 
can be used with particles that govern nouns. E. g. kaku 
no gotoki, ' like this ' ; oku no hito, ' many people ' ; y agate no 
wakare, 'parting at length'. 

Single words of which the function is solely adverbial are 
very rare in Japanese. The so-called adverbial forms of 
adjectives in Japanese are not exclusively adverbial. The 
form kataku, for instance, can act as an adverb, as in kataku 
utsu, 'to strike hard' ; but in katakarazu ( = kataku +arazu) 
it is purely a conjunctive form, and has no adverbial force. 

Apart from the development of adverbs and adverbial 
phrases by the processes outlined above, the rapid addition of 
words of Chinese origin to the native vocabulary gave rise 
to further formations. The manner of bringing these words 
into use as adverbs varied according to circumstances. The 
simplest method was to employ one of the particles to or ni, as 


in the case of many native onomatopoeic and similar forms. 
Thus we have a considerable group of adverbial compounds 
of Chinese origin, analogous to, say, sawasawa and harabaru, 
of which typical examples are : 

gogo to rumblingly 

dodo to majestically 

These forms have been already described under the heading 
devoted to the particle to. They are not necessarily onoma- 
topoeic, and are not all reduplicated or even disyllabic, but 
they usually display at least alliteration or assonance, as in 
moro, sanran, hohai, rinretsu, &c. 

An alternative method of forming adverbs from Chinese 
words is to employ suffixes which in Chinese are used to give 
those words an adverbial sense. The most frequent of these 
is zen ffe, which provides such adverbs as hitsuzen, ' certainly', 
shizen, 'naturally'. These can, in prose, be used as they 
stand, but it is customary, especially in the spoken language, 
to add the particle ni or to, as in shizen to, totsuzen ni. Other 
such terminations, in less frequent use, are^'o jm, ni ffj$, and 
ko 5$-. 

It should be remembered that both adjectives and verbs 
in Japanese have special forms which can be used as adverbs. 
The word kataku, quoted above, is the adverbial form of the 
adjective katashi, 'hard', while hajimete, 'beginning' (i.e. for 
the first time), and nokorazu, 'not remaining' (i.e. com- 
pletely), are adverbial forms of verbs. 


THIS subject can naturally be treated only in outline 
here, since its full discussion involves all questions of 
etymology as distinct from accidence. 

As has been pointed out in several places in the foregoing 
text, the Japanese language in the earliest state known to 
us seems to reveal an imperfect differentiation of function. 
Many words appear to retain, in a variety of uses, what 
I may call a substantival flavour — they are imperfectly 
differentiated as verbs, adjectives, &c. This idea is difficult 
to express clearly, and is therefore possibly open to suspicion, 
but it may perhaps be explained by examples. In 

tori ga naku the bird sings 

naku tori a singing bird 

karigane no naku nari (K.) it is the wild geese crying 

the word naku in each case represents a substantive rather 
than a verb concept. The literal translations are 'bird's 
cry', 'cry bird', and 'it is cry of geese'. There is no dif- 
ferentiation in form between the word for ' cry ' in each case, 
although syntactically it stands in (i) for a verb, in (2) for 
an adjective, and in (3) for a noun. A large part of the 
development of the Japanese language, as indeed of most 
languages, in its earlier stages consists of the growth of forms 
by which functions are differentiated. This process, as will 
have been seen, in Japanese has consisted largely of agglu- 
tination — the addition to undifferentiated or imperfectly 
differentiated words of suffixes by means of which their 
function is delimited. Thus some verbs developed special 
attributive forms, as tatsuru, the attributive form of tatsu, 
'to stand', so that hito tatsu is 'a man stands', but tatsuru 
hito 'a standing man'. Adjectives too have attributive, 
conjunctive, and predicative forms, and there is an important 
class of words which are of a substantival nature but cannot 
stand alone, and must be brought into use as adjectives or 
adverbs by means of suffixes ; as akiraka naru, 'clear', and 
akiraka ni, 'clearly'. 


But as the language continued its development it discarded 
in some instances these specialized forms. Thus in the 
standard modern colloquial the specialized predicative forms 
of adjectives are obsolete, and the distinction between pre- 
dicative and attributive forms of verbs is not observed. We 
can now say tatsu hito as well as hito ga tatsu, yoi hito for 
yoki hito, and hito ga yoi instead of hito yoshi. The first of 
these examples provides an instance where Japanese has 
proceeded farther than English in the direction of simplifica- 
tion and the reliance upon significant word order, since it is 
obviously simpler to say tatsu hito, ' stand man ', than ' a man 
who stands'. 

Apart from those agglutinative processes which have in 
the case of verbs and adjectives given rise to something like 
a regular flexional scheme, there are certain other processes 
of a more limited application by which words can be dif- 
ferentiated as to function, with or without a change of 
meaning. It is difficult to draw a line between what are 
generally called compound words and words so formed ; but 
for practical purposes the following description is limited to 
cases where the change is produced by the addition of an 
element which cannot stand alone — that is, by suffixes other 
than those already described. 

(1) Suffixes enabling words to function as substantives. 
These are such as the suffixes sa and mi, attached as a rule 
to words other than nouns, as in fukasa, 'depth', akami, 
' reddishness ', kaerusa, ' the way back ', and so on. The case 
of a word like akami raises interesting questions as to the 
early division of function among Japanese words. Aha is 
usually called an adjective stem, but it existed, and still 
exists, as an independent word, and there is no means of 
proving that it represented an adjectival rather than a sub- 
stantival concept. It is safer to say that it is, at least 
approximately, the form prior to differentiation. Words like 
this are inconvenient for grammarians, because they refuse 
to fit into the categories which those scholars pretend to 
distinguish. The fact is, of course, that it is absurd to expect 
words to behave more logically than the people who use 

SA is found in the Nara period in such forms as sabushisa 
(M.), 'loneliness', subenasa (M.), 'helplessness', kaerusa ni 


into ni misen (M.), 'on my return I will show her'. In the 
later language it is sometimes suffixed to Sinico-Japanese 

MI, to judge from such words in the modern language as 
akami, 'redness', is a suffix forming abstract nouns from 
adjectival stems. Historically, however, it appears to be 
the conjunctive form of a termination, mu, of certain derived 
verbs. Thus : 

neshiku wo . . . uruwashimi admiring his sleep 

ametsuchi no kokoro wo ito- whereas We do serve and 

shimiikashimi katajikenami prize and thank and dread 

kashikomi imasu ni (Res.) the Will of Heaven and 


Totoki mikoto wo itadaki . . . hearkening to the precious 

yorokobi totomi oji kashiko- Word, rejoicing and rever- 

marite (Res.) ing, dreading and obeying... 

kokoro itarni aga 'mou imo my sweetheart of whom I 

(M.) think with grieving heart 

In these examples, which are of a type very common in 
the Nara period, the forms ending in mi are clearly verbs, 
and they govern an objective case, sometimes marked by 
the particle wo. Other uses are found, as in 

sono hito domo no nigimi ya- that those people may be 
sumi subeku (Res.) gentle and peaceable 

where nigimi and yasumi are conjunctive forms acting as 
substantives. Similarly wabishimi suru, 'to grieve', uru 
washimi suru, 'to admire'. 

In the poetry of the classical period a curious half-way 
construction can be found, where these words ending in mi 
are treated grammatically as verbs and yet have the meaning 
of nouns. Thus : 

miyako wo to mi distance from the Capital 
yama wo bmi multitude of hills 

The derived verbs ending in mu are numerous, and they 
have for the most part persisted in the modern language. 
As examples one may take 

ayashimu, to suspect ayashi, suspicious 


itamu, to be painful itashi, painful 

suzumu, to grow cool suzushi, cool 

nikumu, to hate nikushi, hateful 

yasumu, to rest yasushi, easy 

It can hardly be supposed that the mi in yasumi is a special 
suffix for forming abstract nouns. For that purpose we have 
the suffix sa, as in suzushisa, 'coolness', itasa, 'painfulness', 
whereas suzumi and itami have the meanings which we 
should expect from the conjunctive forms of suzumu and 

(2) Suffixes enabling words to function as predicative 
words. Such are shi and rashi, suffixed to nouns (and verbs, 
but see p. 189) to form adjectives, such as kodomorashi, 
' childish ', with an attributive form kodomorashiki ; otonashi, 
otonashiki, 'gentle'. 

In the Manyoshu and previous texts an adjective suffix 
ji is found, with an adverbial form jiku. This is no doubt 
another form of shi, and persists in such words as onaji, 

Other suffixes, transforming words into verbs, are meku, 
buru, garu (which is probably gi?, mentioned below, +aru), 
as illustrated in 

karameku, 'to look Chinese', harumeku, 'to be spring- 
like', hoshigaru, 'to feel desirous', awaregaru, 'to feel 
sorry', gakushaburu, 'to ape the scholar', takaburu, 
'to put on airs'. 

(3) Suffixes enabling words to act as adverbs. Chief 
among these are the suffixes ge, ra, and ka, in such words 
as ureshige, kiyora, hanayaka. These again cannot be brought 
into use except by the aid of particles. Ureshige, for instance, 
is composed of the adjective ureshi, 'joyful', plus ge (pro- 
bably ke, ^ 'spirit'), which converts it into a noun approxi- 
mating to ' joyousness ' ; but it is not as a rule used as a noun, 
occurring chiefly in compounds like ureshige ni, 'joyously', 
ureshige naru, 'joyous'. 

Of the above suffixes, ge is not found in the Nara period. 
Ra on the other hand is common, e. g. umara ni (K.), mono- 
kanashira ni (M.). Its significance is vague. Mr. Yamada 
suggests that in the Nara period it is merely euphonic. In 
other combinations its function actually is to make an idea 


vague rather than precise, as in idzura, 'whereabouts ?' as 
opposed to idzuku, ' where ? ' Sometimes we find it forming 
a noun by addition to an adjective stem, as in sakashira (M.), 
for 'cunning'. In akara o bune, 'a red boat', it may be 
merely euphonic or it may convey the idea of 'reddish'. 
This suffix is doubtless cognate with the re which appears 
in ware, kore, idzure, &c. 

In addition to the agglutinative processes just described, 
there are certain other methods by which parts of speech 
can be diverted from one function to another. Very charac- 
teristic of the Japanese language in this respect is the process 
of reduplication, which can be illustrated as follows : 

(a) Nouns reduplicated to form plurals, such as yamayama, 

' mountains ', wareware, ' we ', hitobito, ' people ', sama- 
zarna, ' various kinds ', &c. 

(b) Nouns reduplicated to form adverbs, as tokidoki, 'at 

times', nakanaka, 'certainly', &c. 

It will be seen that these two classes merge into one another. 
Function is determined by context sometimes. E. g. sama- 
zama no mondai, 'questions of various sorts', and samazama 
ni omou, 'think variously'. 

(c) Adjective stems reduplicated, generally to form ad- 

verbs, as hayabaya, 'quickly', usuusu, 'faintly', 
naganaga, ' for a long time ', chikajika, 'shortly', &c. 
These forms can be used adverbially, with or without 
the aid of a particle, as in chikajika [ni) dekakeru, 
'sets out shortly', naganaga go yakkai ni nari, 
'having been a nuisance to you for a long time'. 
By means of no they can be used as adjectives, as 
in naganaga no go yakkai, 'a protracted nuisance', 
and sometimes they can be reconverted into inflected 
adjectives by means of a suffix, as naganagashiki in 
naganagashiki natsuno hi ,' the long long summer day '. 

(d) Verbs in the predicative duplicated to form adverbial 

phrases, as 

yukuyuku kuu he eats as he goes along 

nakunaku koto no yoshi she told her story as she wept 

wo kataru 

masumasu, ' increasingly ' kaesugaesu, ' time after time ' 


It is this usage which has given rise to the common idiom 
illustrated in such a phrase as hon wo yomitsutsu, ' reading a 
book meanwhile', where tsutsu indicates the continuation of 
the action described by the verb. It is a duplicated form of 
the verb suffix tsu (tsuru, te) and occurs in early texts, thus : 

kugane sukunakemu to onto- whereas we have been used 
oshi ureitsutsu aru ni (Res.) to grieve, thinking that gold 

was scarce 
koitsutsu zo oru (M.) I am yearning 

tsuki wa henitsutsu (M.) the moon is waning 

(e) Verbs in the conjunctive form duplicated to give a kind 
of progressive, as in 

yukiyukite Suruga no kuni ni going on and on he reaches 

itaru the province of Suruga 

nagarenagarete koko ni kitaru wandering and wandering I 

have come hither 

(/) Many, if not most, onomatopoeic words are formed by 
reduplication, as karakara (of a rattling sound), sura- 
sura (of a rustling sound). 

We now come to the formation of Compound Words, by 
which is to be understood here the synthesis of two or more 
words, each capable of independent use, to form a new word 
either expressing the sum of the two ideas or amplifying or 
limiting the meaning of the separate components. Types of 
such words are respectively : 

yamakawa hills and streams 

yamamichi mountain road 

migurushi u gty 

yakikorosu to burn to death 

Strictly speaking, it is not possible to draw a line between 
compound words as thus defined and such words as, say, 
yukishi, 'went', samusa, 'cold', much less forms like tokidoki 
and masumasu. The two last are composed of independent 
words, while yukishi and samusa contain the elements shi 
and sa, which may at one time have been independent. The 
classification is arbitrary. 

In words of the type of yamakawa there is no coalescence, 
but only juxtaposition, and the meaning conveyed is only 

3*70 q q 


the sum of the two parts, ' hills and streams ' — an interesting 
corollary of the fact that pure Japanese has no satisfactory 
equivalent of the conjunction ' and '. Where semantic coales- 
cence takes place it is usually accompanied by phonetic 
change. Thus yamagawa would mean 'mountain-stream', 
and kami-sashi, 'hair pierce', becomes kanzashi, 'a hairpin'. 
As a general rule, and consistently with the usual order of 
words in Japanese, the first element in a compound is the 
subordinate or attributive element. Thus sakurabana means 
the cherry blossom, while hanazakura is the blossoming 

For convenience of description, compound words can be 
classified by function and subdivided as follows ; but many 
of them can, of course, in the appropriate forms perform 
several functions. 


(a) Noun + noun. E. g. kusabana, 'grass and flowers', in 
the sense of ' vegetation ' ,funauta, 'a boat-song', takarabune, 
'a treasure-ship'. 

(b) Adjective + noun. E. g. chikamichi, 'a short cut', 
karuwaza, 'tumbling', warujie, 'low cunning'. 

(c) Verb + noun. E. g. tsuribune, 'fishing boat', orimono, 

(d) Noun + adjective. E. g. toshiwaka, 'youth', mekura, 
'a blind person'. 

(e) Adjective + adjective. E. g. usuaka, 'light red'. 
(/) Verb + adjective. E.g. kasegidaka, 'earnings'. 

(g) Noun + verb. E.g. funanori, 'sailor', kurumahiki, 

(h) Verb + verb. E.g. nomikui, 'eating and drinking', 
uketori, ' a receipt '. 

It will be noticed that as a rule adjectives are in their 
uninflected ('stem') form. Compounds of three words 
appear, though naturally with less frequency. Such are 
mikomichigai , 'miscalculation', monoshirigao, 'a knowing 
look', nakineiri, 'crying oneself to sleep'. 


(a) Noun + adjective. E.g. nadakaki, 'famous', kidzu- 
yoki, 'strong-minded'. 


(b) Adjective + adjective. E.g. hosonagaki, 'slender'. 

(c) Verb + adjective. E.g. minikuki, 'ugly', shiyasuki, 


(a) Noun + verb. E.g. kokorozasu, 'to intend', mono- 
gataru, 'to relate'. 

(b) Adjective + verb. E.g. chikayoru, 'to approach', 
nagabiku, 'to drag'. 

(c) Verb + verb. E. g. 

norikaeru, ' to change ' (boat or train) 
tatakikorosu, ' to beat to death ' 
nomisugiru, ' to drink too much ' 

Japanese is very rich in compounds of this type, which 
express meanings usually conveyed in English by verb + 
preposition. Thus kaeriyuku, 'to go back', mochiageru, 'to 
hold up', tobioriru, 'to jump down', idetatsu, 'to set forth'. 

(d) Adverb + verb. The most important verbs of this 
group are those composed of the demonstrative adverbs and 
the verb aru, like kakaru, shikaru, saru, in 

kakaru toki ni at such a time 

shikareba as it is so 

sareba that being the case 

Adverbs. It has already been pointed out that in Japanese 
adverbial functions are performed more frequently by phrases 
than by separate words. The commonest form is the com- 
bination of a substantive or its equivalent with a particle, 
as in makoto ni, ' in truth ', for ' truly ', masa ni, ' exactly ', &c. 
Some of these may be regarded as having by frequent usage 
assumed the character of compound words, but generally 
speaking the coalescence is not complete. Some adverbs are 
independent compound words (e. g. nakanaka, hanahada, 
mottomo, and echo-words like gatagata), but these are not 
numerous. Combinations of particles, with other particles 
or other parts of speech, sometimes acquire a specialized 
meaning. Perhaps the most characteristic example is the 
word koso, which is a compound of the demonstrative pro- 
noun ko and the particle (itself also a demonstrative) so, and 
from early times has been an independent adverbial particle. 


The early language contained a large number of these com- 
pounds, showing various degrees of coalescence. A typical 
case is bay a ( = ha +ya), which has the value of a desiderative 
suffix after verbs. Thus torikaebaya, ' I wish I could change '. 
Other frequent combinations are bashi, kamo, yawa, damo, 
mozo, dani, kana, mogana, &c. They are so numerous that 
they cannot be treated separately here. In poetical language 
in particular — the language of sighs and groans and joyous 
exclamations — they are freely used, often in a quasi-inter- 
jectional way, as a substitute for compound verb forms. 
Thus arashi mozo fuku, 'Methinks the storm is raging', for 
arashi fukuramu, where mozo cannot be said to have the 
meaning of its component parts. Similarly with mogana, in 
Oizu shinazu no kusuri mogana, 'O for an elixir of youth 
and life ! ' Such forms may be deemed obsolete in all but 
pseudo-archaic styles. 


Though the origins of the Japanese language are still 
obscure, it is easy to trace foreign elements imported in the 
Nara period. The occurrence in certain poems of the Man- 
yoshu of Chinese words is ample evidence that they were 
already naturalized when the verses were composed, and no 
longer had an exotic character. They are few in number, 
consisting of such words as sugoroku §g 7^ (a game like 
backgammon), hoshi y£ ftj] a priest, gaki fs$ $g a demon. 
In the Rescripts of the Nara period, composed at a time 
when the court and the administration were under strong 
Chinese influence, reinforced by the growing power of 
Buddhism, which operated chiefly through the medium of 
Chinese-speaking teachers and Chinese books, a number of 
words relating to government and religion are to be found, 
although these documents purport to be written in pure 
Japanese. Thus we have 

hakase &. jj a court rank 

rikiden jj |B a grant of land 

rai jji|f ceremony 

gaku %fe music 

kyogi i$. H filial duty 

ninkyo {2 i$. benevolence and piety 


of which the last four are terms from the ethico-political 
system borrowed in the Taikwa period (a. d. 640) from China. 
Some traces of Sanskrit are visible, imported from China 
or Korea, which are written phonetically by means of ideo- 
graphs. The following are early examples : 


Baramon Brahmana 

Rusana Rocana 

Bosachi Bodhisattva 

Kesa Kashaya 

Sari Sarira 

Danna Danapati 

The above examples are taken from Japanese texts, but it 
must be remembered that from the Taikwa reform onwards 
the language used in state documents, official records, and 
treatises on subjects both profane and sacred was Chinese. 
Consequently, though the words just quoted were no doubt 
current in conversation (as may be inferred from their use 
with Japanese prefixes, as, for example, mikesa), there was 
probably a much larger group of words of Chinese origin, 
not perhaps so freely used, but at various stages of assimila- 
tion. The history of the Japanese language from this date 
onwards is largely a record of the adoption of Chinese words 
and, though to a much smaller extent, of Chinese locutions. 
The tendency has generally been to take over Chinese com- 
pounds without change, though, as might be supposed, 
difference of environment and sometimes mere ignorance 
often produced differences of semantic development. Many 
Chinese words are now used in Japan in a sense which would 
be unintelligible to a modern Chinese. Frequently the date 
at which a Chinese word entered Japanese can be approxi- 
mately judged from its pronunciation in Japanese, and there 
are some cases where a word to-day has two or more pro- 
nunciations, and even meanings, corresponding to the sound 
or meaning given to it in China at the time when, or in the 
place from which, it was imported or reimported. 

As the vocabulary of Sinico-Japanese words increased, the 
language naturally developed a faculty for forming new com- 
binations thereof to meet new requirements. For a long 
time, it is true, the imported words bear the stamp of the 


Chinese mint. They are Chinese currency, circulating freely 
in Japan, with perhaps a slight difference in face value. But 
as the influence of Chinese civilization upon Japan, once 
paramount, began to wane, Japan began to strike her own 
coins of Chinese metal. To-day Japanese freely creates new 
compound words of Chinese elements, but without reference 
to Chinese usage. Thus we have bijutsu, H tffa 'fine art', 
which is not used in China ; and jidosha, g fifr iff for a 
motor-car, while the Chinese say f{| j|l tien ch'e. Indeed, 
in the most modern scientific terminology, it is the Sinico- 
Japanese words coined in Japan that are now adopted by 
the Chinese. 

We have already traced, in the introductory chapter, the 
process by which borrowed Chinese words were assimilated 
and made to perform the various functions of verb, adjective, 
&c. There were only a very few words, like sozoku, which 
assumed a pure Japanese form. One of them is rikimu, 
where the suffix mu has been added to the Chinese riki, -)] 
' strength ', to form a verb meaning ' to strain '. Perhaps the 
most curious member of this very small class is the word 
gozaru, one of the commonest in the language, since it is the 
polite way of saying 'is'. It derives from a Chinese com- 
pound ffli j£ go-za, ' august seat ', to which is added the verb 
aru, giving gozaru, 'to be augustly seated', and thence, by 
the usual degradations of honorific forms, coming to mean 
merely 'to be present', 'to exist', and then 'to be'. 

A few words of Portuguese and Dutch origin can be traced 
to the Tokugawa period. Such are biidoro, 'glass' {—vitro) ; 
pan, 'bread' ; gyaman, 'glass' (= diamant) . 

In modern Japanese a number of English words are in 
daily use, but they have for the most part retained an exotic 
flavour, largely because the syllabic system makes it difficult 
to record their pronunciation, and the usual attempt at a 
phonetic transcript is often quite unrecognizable as either 
a Japanese or a foreign word. Words like kurabu (club), 
kohi (coffee), bata (butter), hoteru (hotel), garasu (glass), biiru 
(beer), &c, are fully naturalized. There are in many cases 
Sinico- Japanese compounds corresponding to these words, 
as, for instance, bakushu, $£ }f| ('barley wine'), for beer, but 
they are rarely used in the spoken language. 

Philologists might well derive instruction and a warning 


from some of these naturalized forms, which provide almost 
incredible instances of sound change. In Japanese railway 
stations one is sometimes directed to what is called the 
' home '. This seems inappropriate for a departing traveller ; 
but it is written jfc — a = hbmu, and is the official name 
for ' platform ', from which word, by mutilation and contrac- 
tion, it is derived. 



THE previous chapters have for the most part been 
devoted to an analysis of word-forms and an account 
of their respective uses. The present chapter is mainly- 
recapitulatory, its object being to summarize the foregoing 
material in its reverse aspect, by taking separately each 
important grammatical function and grouping together the 
various methods by which it can be performed. 

Substantives. The function of a substantive is, of course, 
normally performed by a noun. In addition, however, it 
can be performed by predicative words, i. e. verbs and 
adjectives, in their appropriate forms. Thus : 

(i) Verbs in the predicative form. These act only rarely 
as nouns in such cases as those of shizuku, 'a drop', 
hotaru, 'firefly', and a few names like Susumu, 
Hagemu, &c. 

(2) Verbs in the attributive form. E. g. : 

yorokobu wa yoku ikaruru it is good to rejoice and bad 

wa ashi to be angry 

ikaruru wa kiden nari the angry one is you 

(3) Adjectives in the predicative form. These are used as 

nouns only in such rare cases as those of karashi, 
'mustard', &c. 

(4) Adjectives in the attributive form. E. g. : 

nagaki wa sao to nashi making the long ones into 

kami no nagaki wa bijin length of hair is a mark of 
no so nari beauty 

(5) Verbs in the conjunctive form. E. g. : 
yorokobi no amari excess of rejoicing 

(6) Adjectives in the conjunctive form. E. g. : 

kono uchi no chikaku in the neighbourhood of this 


It will be noticed that there are differences in meaning 


according to the form used. Thus yorokobi represents the 
abstract idea of rejoicing, and yorokobu (attributive) repre- 
sents rejoicing as a condition or state attributed to a subject, 
expressed or implied. 

Pronouns. The tendency in Japanese is to dispense with 
pronouns, particularly with personal pronouns. Their func- 
tion is performed by descriptive nouns or by honorific or 
humble verb forms. Examples of these have already been 
given, but for convenience one or two may be repeated here. 
As a substitute for 'I' we find words ranging from Chin, 
used by the Emperor, to deprecatory terms like temae, ' the 
person before you', and boku, 'the slave'. Similar methods 
are employed to represent the second and to a less extent 
the third person. Thus we have kimi, 'king', anata, 'that 
side', omae (honorific prefix +' front'), kisama, 'noble sir', 
all used as substitutes for 'you'. And ano hito, 'that per- 
son', ano kata, 'that side', sensei, 'elder', as equivalents of 
'he'. As is common with honorific forms, they tend to 
extravagance and subsequent degradation. We find in the 
modern colloquial that kisama is used in abusive as well as 
very familiar language, kimi among intimates, omae to ser- 
vants, children, wives, and others by whom no deference is 
expected. In polite conversation anata is used. 

Though liberal in its use of honorifics, Japanese is sur- 
prisingly poor in terms of affection. There is nothing to 
correspond to those endearing diminutives which are so 
common in European languages, like 'darling', Liebchen, 
poverino, &c. ; or to amiable modes of address like 'dear', 
'beloved', to say nothing of such vocative forms as 'old 
man' and its various modern substitutes. The nearest thing 
is perhaps the use of baby-talk. Taro-chan for Taro-san is 
roughly the equivalent of Tommy for Thomas. In the 
earliest poems, those of the Kojiki and the Manyoshu, it 
does seem possible to discern an affectionate significance in 
words like nase, 'thou brother', wagimo, 'my sister', naki, 
'? thou dear', &c. So many of these songs are love-poems 
that one cannot suppose their vocabulary to have been free 
from terms of endearment. 

It must be remembered that the use of honorific and 
humble words very often makes the use of pronouns unneces- 
sary. Thus irassharu, being an honorific form ( = 'to go'), 

3*70 R r 


cannot refer to the first person, mairu (='to go'), being 
humble, cannot refer to the second person, and consequently 
it is nearly always possible without ambiguity to dispense 
with personal pronouns. The honorific prefixes on, o, mi, go 
frequently serve the purpose of possessive pronouns. Thus 
o taku means 'your house', and cannot possibly mean 'my 
house'. Similarly with humble prefixes. Gusoku, 'stupid 
offspring', must mean 'my son' and not yours or another's. 
Instances of degradation, similar to that which takes place 
with honorific verbs, can be seen in the use of these prefixes. 
Thus tea is usually o cha, rice is usually go han, whether your 
tea or rice or mine or some one else's. is often, particularly 
by women, prefixed to the names of parts of the body which, 
though important, are not usually regarded as honourable. 
In this connexion it may be appropriate to mention the 
existence in Japan of what is called the 'women's language'. 
Women, except perhaps the most advanced, still use a lan- 
guage which differs in vocabulary in some respects from that 
of men. It contains fewer Chinese words, and more native 
ones. This is a natural result of the difference in education, 
women under the old regime not having been given a ground- 
ing in the Chinese classics, but merely instructed in the 
doctrines of those works which laid down their duties as 
daughters, wives, and mothers. Further, certain words, 
particularly humble and honorific terms, were used exclu- 
sively by women. So we find a woman's word for water, 
ohiya (honorific + ' cold ') , instead of midzu, which is the man's 
word. Generally speaking the language of women, owing 
to their subordination in the Japanese social system, has 
hitherto been more plentifully sprinkled with honorific and 
humble terms than that of men. But in modern times these 
customs seem to be dying out. 

Verbs and Adjectives. It is characteristic of the Japanese 
language that both verbs and adjectives can fulfil predicative, 
attributive, substantival, and adverbial functions. This 
question has been fully dealt with in Chapter III, and does 
not need further discussion here. For convenience of refer- 
ence examples are given below which show the interchange- 
ability of verb and adjective : 

Predicative Adjective : kawa wafukashi, streams are deep 


Predicative Verb : kawa nagaru, streams flow 

Attributive Adjective : fukaki kawa, deep streams 
Attributive Verb : nagaruru kawa, flowing streams 

Auxiliary Verbs. It has been shown that the auxiliary 
verbs suru and aru are in some respects interchangeable. 
For them there can be substituted in many cases certain 
honorific verbs. In describing these it is convenient to pro- 
ceed to an account of honorific verb forms in general, as 
follows : 

Honorific Verb Forms 
The method of constructing honorific verb forms by means 
of certain suffixes has already been described in detail under 
' passive ' and ' causative ' suffixes. It may be briefly stated 
here as the addition of the suffix su or the suffix ru to the 
' imperfect form ' of verbs, which in some contexts gives those 
verbs an honorific sense. Thus : 

na norasane (M.) please tell me your name ? 

Tsurayuki no yomareta- Poems which T. composed 
rishi uta 

Pekin e yukareta ka did you go to Peking ? 

where yomaretarishi, norasane, and yukareta are polite sub- 
stitutes for yomitarishi , norane, and yukita. Such forms are 
to be found in the earliest texts. The circumstances under 
which they have developed their honorific value cannot be 
exactly known ; but it is clear that already in the Nara 
period there was a strong tendency to construct specialized 
honorific forms or to employ specialized honorific words or 

It is a characteristic of such locutions that they suffer 
a process of degradation. With constant use their honorific 
value tends to diminish and even to disappear, so that they 
must be reinforced by the addition of further suffixes or the 
substitution of other forms. The vulgar colloquial of to-day 
provides a striking example of such degradation, for the 
causative forms in su have now actually an insulting sense. 
Even in the very ancient poems of the Kojiki there are 
causative-honorific (su) forms in which it is hard to discern 
any honorific intention. Consequently we find later a free 
use of both suffixes in combination, e. g. yukaseraruru, ' to 


go', which is grammatically a passive causative verb, but 
functionally an honorific. The medieval colloquial contained 
a number of forms on this model, a few of which have sur- 
vived and are in use in everyday speech. Such are irassharu, 
from iru, 'to be present', +su +raru, the original form 
having been iraseraru ; and ossharu, 'to say', which is a 
contraction of oseraru. 

These in their turn tend to lose their force and so to create 
a need for alternative methods of expressing humility or 
respect, while the older forms are appropriated more and 
more for distinctions of person. In the place of honorific 
suffixes we find independent verbs conveying an honorific 
meaning either inherent in them or added to them by suffixes. 
Such are tatematsuru, 'to make offerings', and asobasu or 
asobasaruru, 'to play', 'to be pleased'. In the epistolary 
language zonji tatematsuru, ' worshipf ully opine', is merely 
the polite way of writing 'I think', and o hairi asobase, in 
ordinary speech, is the equivalent of ' Please step in ! ' 
Gradually these too lose entirely or in part their original 
significance and become auxiliary verbs. The most marked 
case of degradation is the verb masu, of which the early 
meaning is something like 'to dwell', and which was an 
honorific for ' to be ' or ' to exist '. Thus A me ni masu kami, 
' The Gods who dwell in Heaven '. In the Nara period it had 
already begun to assume the character of an auxiliary. Thus in 

waga seko ga kaeri kima- the time when my lover shall 
samu toki (M.) come back 

wo ni imaseba (K.) since thou art a man 

it has only an honorific value, and the meaning could be 
rendered by kaerikomu toki or wo ni areba. Subsequently 
by constant use it developed into a purely formal suffix and 
is now used as a termination to all verbs in ordinary polite 
conversation, so that arimasu, yukimasu are the same as 
am, yuku. It is no longer in the strict sense an honorific, 
but merely polite, since it is used irrespective of the per- 
former of the act described. Thus irasshaimasu, 'you go', 
but equally mairimasu, 'I go'. 

Other verbs of this kind with their original meanings are : 

nasaru, 'to do' (nasu + passive termination ru) 
mosu, ' to speak humbly ' 


matsuru, ' to worship ' 

tatematsuru, ' to make offerings ' 

tsukamatsuru, tsukaematsuru, 'to serve' 

safurau, 'to be in attendance'. This word is now pro- 
nounced soro. 

tamau, derived from an earlier tabu, 'to partake', 'to 
deign ' 

kudasaru, 'to condescend', 'to hand down', 'to bestow' 

As will be seen from the following examples, they can be 
used in a purely formal way as honorific auxiliaries. Some 
of them have lost entirely their capacity to convey an inde- 
pendent meaning, others have partially retained it. The 
verb soro {safurau) is an extreme case. It may be said to 
have lost all significance, and it is now used, chiefly in the 
epistolary style, as a polite suffix equivalent to masu in the 
colloquial. Thus : 

yorokobashiki koto to zonji I think it is a matter for 
soro rejoicing 

where zonji soro is a formal equivalent of zonzu, 'I think', 
which would in colloquial be zonjimasu, and really means 
nothing more than 'it is'. 

Tsukamatsuru is a humble equivalent of suru, as in 

kikoku tsukamatsuri soro I am returning to my province 

and its original meaning has disappeared. 

Mosu, asobasu, kudasaru, and tamau are in constant use 
in the modern colloquial. They can be used with their 
original meanings, but as a rule they have only the value 
of auxiliaries. Thus : 

sugu ni mairu to mbshi- he says he will come at once 

where mosu is an independent humble verb, meaning 'to 
say', and 

on sasshi moshimasu I respectfully sympathize 

where moshimasu is simply a humble auxiliary to sasshi, and 
does not mean 'to say'. Similarly kudasaru can be used to 
mean 'bestow', as in mikan wo kudasai, 'Please give me an 
orange', but, like nasaru and asobasu, it is used in ordinary 
speech as an honorific auxiliary. So, in ascending degrees 


of politeness, we have as substitutes for a verb in its natural 
form, say hairu, 'to enter', 

o hairi nasare (nasai) 
o hairi nasaimase 
o hairi kudasare (kudasai) 
o hairi kudasaimase 
o hairi asobase 

all meaning 'Please come in'. 
The word tamau in 

ame no shita moshi tamawane (M.) Deign to rule on earth 

is a strong honorific verb. But in modern colloquial it is 
a weak honorific auxiliary, used mostly in the imperative in 
familiar conversation, as Go yen kashi tamae, ' Lend me five 

A further method of making good deficiencies caused by 
the degradation of honorific or humble forms is, as might be 
anticipated, to use several of them in combination. Thus 
we have asobaseraruru (honorific verb + honorific suffix), 
nashikudasaruru (two honorific verbs), and moshiageru (two 
humble verbs). On these lines it is possible to build up 
forms of surprising complexity, and many such were in use 
in ceremonious speech and writing until comparatively recent 
dates. Some, indeed, have been preserved, in a fossilized 
form, in the modern epistolary style. They are, however, 
but pale shadows of the phraseology, both humble and 
honorific, which is employed in the medieval romances and 
the works of the Kamakura period. 

As we have seen in the case of kudasaru, some honorific 
verbs can be used independently. Generally they have a 
corresponding humble form, like sashiageru, 'to lift up', 
meaning to give to a superior. Such pairs are nasaru and 
itasu, 'to do', kikoshimesu and uketamawaru, 'to hear', 
meshiagaru and itadaku, 'to partake' (of food, drink, &c). 
There are also numerous pairs of Sinico- Japanese compounds 
as is shown by 

miru Neutral 

goran suru ' august look ' ^J J| 

haiken suru ' adoring look ' ^ ^ 

all meaning 'to see'. 


It is obvious that the growth of honorific forms, accom- 
panied as it is by a process of degradation, cannot continue 
indefinitely. The language would become overloaded with 
redundant forms. As might be expected, therefore, there is 
a tendency in modern Japanese to dispense with these locu- 
tions or to employ them more sparingly. 

' Aspects ' of the Verb. The aspects of the verb in Japanese 
do not correspond exactly with the mood, tense, voice, &c, 
of verbs in English ; but we may in general terms say that 
these aspects are expressed in Japanese by the agglutination 
of suffixes to the verb. A distinction can be drawn between 
those suffixes which form an independent verb and those 
which perform an office similar to inflexion. Thus, from 
yuku, ' to go ', we can form by the agglutination of the suffix 
su a causative verb yukasu, and by the agglutination of the 
suffix ru a potential or passive verb yukaru. Also, from 
yuku, by the agglutination of a suffix like shi, we can form 
a past tense yukishi, but this is not an independent verb in 
the same way as yukasu and yukaru, and cannot be con- 
jugated as freely as them. It can, however, under certain 
conditions, take further suffixes to express further modifica- 
tions of tense, &c. We see, then, that Japanese has, for the 
expression of aspects, as well as a regular conjugational 
scheme, certain specialized independent verbs, active, pas- 
sive, causative, and sometimes transitive and intransitive. 

The tendency in modern colloquial is to replace complex 
agglutinated forms of the verb, such as yukitaran, ' will have 
gone', by groups of isolated words, such as itta no dard. 
This is an instance of development towards an analytic 
method. It is interesting to note that yukitaran is built up 
from yuki-te-aran, and that the modern locution is in reality 
a reversion to something like earlier forms. 

Adverbs. Adverbial functions in Japanese are fulfilled in 
a small number of cases by independent words, like hana- 
hada, 'extremely', but for the most part use is made of 
special adverbial forms of adjectives and verbs, or adverbial 
locutions composed of other parts of speech with or without 
the aid of particles. 

Conjunctions. Japanese cannot be said to possess true 
conjunctions. The link between phrases or sentences is fur- 


nished by special conjunctive forms of verb and adjective. 
These have been fully described under their appropriate 
headings. There are a few words like keredomo, 'but', shi- 
kashi, 'however', which function in the same way as con- 
junctions, but strictly speaking they are specialized forms 
of verbs. Keredomo, for instance, is a verb suffix, or rather 
a group of verb suffixes, meaning 'though it is', which has 
achieved an independent existence. Words like keredomo, 
shikashi, datte, moshi, &c, are now frequently used in the 
colloquial in preference to conjunctive forms of verbs — 
another instance of the tendency towards analytic methods 
in speech. The contrast is shown in pairs of sentences like 
the following : 

Literary : \ 

kaze fukeba fune idasazu . .. . . , , 

Colloauial ■ because it is windy we do 

7 r u u £ I not put out the boat 

kaze ga fuku kara fune wo y 

dasanai J 

Literary : \ 

kaze fukedo fune idasu beshi ., , ., . . , .„ 

Colloquial : j~ tho ^ h * * ™ n( ^ we Wl11 

kaze ga fuku keredomo fune put out the boat 
wo dashimasho } 

The link between substantives is sometimes furnished by 
one of the particles to, ni, or mo, as in sake to sakana or sake 
ni sakana, 'wine and food', or sake mo sakana mo, 'both 
wine and food', where the particles have the value of 'and'. 
But very often no conjunction is used and words are merely 
juxtaposed, as onna kodomo, 'women and children'. Some- 
times these groups, by frequent usage, become established 
as compound words, like kusabana, 'grasses and flowers'. 
Indeed the need for conjunctions is lessened in Japanese 
by its facility for forming compounds, whether of nouns, 
adjectives, or verbs. 

Prepositions. These do not exist in Japanese. Their place 
is taken by postpositions or particles, which serve to denote 
case, &c. Again, compound words often serve as the equi- 
valent of phrases which in English are formed by the aid of 
prepositions, as for instance mochiageru, 'hold raise', i.e. 'to 
lift up' ; tobioriru, 'jump descend', i.e. 'to jump down'. 



ALTHOUGH grammatical and logical categories do not 
l\ necessarily coincide, it is convenient to classify syn- 
tactical forms according to their functions in stating or 
modifying a logical proposition, or in bringing two such pro- 
positions into relation. The appropriate divisions, then, are : 

Subject and modifications thereof 
Predicate and modifications thereof 
Copula and modifications thereof 
Links between propositions 

There are, however, grammatical propositions which do not 
fall within any of these categories. Such are statements in 
the form of an interjection or exclamation. Of these in 
Japanese the simplest type is represented by a group of 
words such as 

A ita O pain (meaning ' O ! it hurts ') 

where ita is an adjective stem in form, rather than an inde- 
pendent part of speech. Early writings — poetical ones in 
particular — contain many statements of this nature. Thus : 

sen sube no nasa (M.) the not-ness of anything to do, 

i. e. ' there is nothing to be done ' 

yo no mijikaku akuru short night's ending grievousness, 
wabishisa i.e.' how sad that the nights are 

short and daybreak, when we 
must separate, comes so quickly ' 

Here nasa and wabishisa are nouns used in an exclamatory 
way. These are rudimentary propositions formed without 
the aid of a verb, and it is worth noting that a typical 
sentence in Japanese, like tori ga naku, is historically of the 
same type, since it is composed of two nouns — ' bird's sing- 
ing' instead of 'the bird sings'. 

Most statements, however, can be brought within one of 
the categories which follow. 

3i7o s s 


I. Subject. In the simplest cases we have a noun or a 
pronoun, as 

yuki furu snow falls 

kare wa kaeriitari he has returned 

We can also have verbs and adjectives in special substantival 
forms : 

ikaruru wa ashi to get angry is bad 

kataki mo yoroshi the hard ones also are good 

It is important to notice that by using the substantival form 
of verbs and adjectives a complete sentence can be made to 
stand as the subject (and of course as the object) of a verb. 
Thus : 

eda wo oritaru wa ware ni it was not I who broke the 

arazu branch 

yama yori takaki wa fubo no what is higher than the 

on nari mountains is parental love 

kaze yori hayaki wa denshin quicker than the wind is a 

nari telegram 

It is a characteristic feature of Japanese that the subject 
of a verb is not necessarily expressed. Thus : 

kono hana wo kiku to iu (they) call this flower ' kiku ' 

where the verb iii, 'to say', has no subject. It results from 
this idiom that there is rarely any need for resorting to a 
passive construction. It will be seen that the above sentence 
can be translated into English, 'this flower is called kiku', 
and as a general rule, where we should use a passive con- 
struction, Japanese makes use of a verb without a subject 
or names the subject but uses an active verb, e. g. : 

kono uchi wa B. kun ga tateta this house was built by Mr. 

kono uchi wa mada soji shinai this house has not yet been 


II. Predicate. Where the proposition states an identity 
the predicate is substantival in form and the copula is 
expressed separately, as 

Yoshitsune wa ningen nari Yoshitsune is a man 


where Yoshitsune is the subject and ningen a substantive 
forming the predicate, with the aid of the special copulative 
locution wa . . . nari. 

In most other cases the object of a proposition is not to 
state an identity but to predicate a property or a state of 
the subject. Thus : 

(1) ishi otsu stones fall 

(2) ishi (wa) katashi stones are hard 

Here the copula is in the form of the proposition. In (1) it 
lies in the juxtaposition of terms in their proper order, in 
(2) it is expressed by the special form katashi, in which shi 
is a predicative termination. 

III. The Copula. Where the copula is expressed it may 
take several forms. The simplest is that already shown in 
Yoshitsune wa ningen nari. Alternative methods are the use 
of the locution to ari (contracted to tari) and to su. Thus : 

ware wa ningen tari I am a man 

kwaisha wa hojin to su the company is a juridical person 

kaze fukan to su the wind is about to blow 

Sometimes a copula is used where the special predicative 
form would suffice, as in 

haru kureba kari kaeru when Spring comes the wild geese 
nari go back 

where kaeru is substantival, and kari kaeru alone would form 
a complete proposition. Similarly 

kare wa yukubeki nari he must go 

where yukubeshi alone would be sufficient. Naturally, where 
such alternative forms exist, they are used sometimes to 
express different shades of meaning. 

IV. Modifications of the Subject. The subject being 
always substantival in form the following observations apply 
equally to all nouns and equivalents of nouns, whatever their 
position in a sentence. 

The simplest form of modification is the differentiation of 
one thing from others in the same category. In English this 
is performed by the definite or indefinite article. There is 
no article in Japanese. Hito means ' a person ', ' the person \ 
'persons', or 'the persons'. 


A further stage of differentiation is that where the subject 
is defined by reference to its position as regards the speaker. 
In Japanese there are equivalents of our demonstrative pro- 
nouns, ano, kono, sono, &c, as in ano hito, 'that person', 
sono toki, 'that time'. It will be seen that the elements so, 
a, ko, &c, are brought into relation with nouns by the 
particle no. It is a general rule in Japanese that a particle 
(usually no or ga) is required to bring one substantive in 
relation to another. 

The simplest case is that of the possessive pronouns, e. g. 
waga chichi, 'my father', anata no boshi, 'your hat'. The 
same method is used in limiting the subject by reference to 
its position in time or space or other circumstance. Thus : 
kino no shimbun yesterday's paper 

ima made no tsumori my intention until now 

west wind 
many people 
the return from China 

nishi no kaze 

bku no hito 

Shina yori no kaeri 

A full account of the attributive uses of no is given under 

Both verb and adjective have special attributive forms, 

as in 

nagaki kawa long streams 

nagaruru kawa flowing streams 

These attributive forms can be amplified, as in 

nagare no hayaki kawa streams with a rapid flow 
hayaku nagaruru kawa rapidly flowing streams 

It is an extension of this latter usage which provides Japanese 
with an equivalent for the English relative sentence, as 

hayaku nagaruru kawa 
Ten ni mashimasu waga 

imbto no bybki shitaru 


a stream which flows rapidly 
Our Father which art in 

the time when my sister was 


but it must be noted that it is possible to relate one complete 

sentence to another by using the particle no. We can say 

isse wo odorokasu no jigyo wo he aimed at carrying out 

nashi togemu to kokorogake- some enterprise which would 

tari astonish the world 


where, with perhaps a slight nuance, issei wo odorokasu jigyo 
might be substituted. 

Attributive forms of the predicative locutions nari, tari, 
and to su are also freely used. Thus : 

shidzuka naru tokoro a quiet place 
yukamu to suru hito a person about to go 

santan taru arisatna a dreadful sight 

In some cases simple juxtaposition can make one word the 
attribute of another. The attributive element is always 
first. The commonest case is that of collocations of Sinico- 
Japanese words, such as 

Tenno Heika His Imperial Majesty 

minsei shugi popular government principle, 

i. e. democracy 
kiken shiso dangerous thought 

rikugun daijin war minister 

jizen jigyo charitable undertakings 

In early texts cases of apposition like the following are not 
infrequent : 

imashi ga chichi Fujihara Thy father, the Minister 
no Asomi (Res.) Fujihara 

Waga miko imashi (Res.) You, Our son 

Where several attributes of one subject are mentioned, early 
texts provide instances in which each attributive word is in 
the normal attributive form, as 

totoki takaki hiroki atsuki noble, lofty, broad, warm 
mi koto (Res.) words 

But the usual method of placing all but the last term of 
a series in the conjunctive form is also followed : 

tadashiku akiraka ni kiyoki an honest, bright, and pure 
kokoro (Res.) heart 

The modern practice is to use conjunctive phrases, such as 
shite, ni shite, nite, &c. : 

iro kuroku shite kwotaku a black, lustrous metal 
aru kinzokn 


Where the subject consists of more than one item, simple 
juxtaposition is sometimes sufficient, as in 

time sakura ichiji ni saku plum and cherry blossom 


but the use of a conjunctive particle is more frequent : 

shujin mo kyaku mo tomo host and guest laugh to- 
rn warau gether 

sake to tabako to wa karada wine and tobacco harm the 

ni gai shimasu body 

In modern prose the locutions narabi ni and oyobi are pre- 
ferred to the particle to. Thus : 

Shina narabi ni Chosen China and Korea 

Eikoku oyobi sono shoku- England and her colonies 

Where items forming the subject are alternative, a dis- 
junctive particle or locution is used. The early language 
makes use of the interrogative particle ka or ya, as in yuki 
ka ame ka, 'snow or rain'. The modern language prefers 
such locutions as 

shonin mata wa gunjin merchants or soldiers 

shonin moshiku wa gunjin ,, 

shonin arui wa gunjin 

with slight variations of meaning according to context. 

V. Modification of the Predicate. Where the predicate 
is composed of a substantival form + copula, as in Yoshi- 
tsune wa ningen nari, the possible modifications of the sub- 
stantival element are of course identical with those just 
described. The following account is therefore limited to 
modifications of the verb element in a predicate. These may 
be conveniently divided as follows : 

i. Time. It has been pointed out that the Japanese verb 
in its simple forms is neutral as to time. In the earlier stages 
of the language time-relations do not appear to have been 
expressed with precision, but a number of suffixes which 
originally denoted other aspects, such as certainty, proba- 
bility, &c, may now be looked upon as having developed 



a tense-significance. Consequently a verb may be varied as 
to time as follows : 







yukitsutsu ari 








to go, goes 

is going (in some contexts) 

is going 

has gone, is gone 

has gone 


did go 

did go 

will go 

will go 

It must be understood that the correspondence between the 
above categories in English and Japanese is only approximate. 
The tendency in the spoken language is to substitute analytical 
methods for the flexional forms in expressing time. Thus : 


kaita ( = kakitari) 
kaite oru 
kaite otta 
kaita oita 
kaite shimatta 
kako ( = kakan) 
kaku daro 



is writing 

was writing 

has written 

has finished writing 

will (probably) write 

will (probably) write 

Further definition is given to time-relations where neces- 
sary by means of adverbs or adverbial phrases, as in 

katsute kore wo yomeri I have read this previously 
sude ni mo kakitari has already written 

These call for no special comment ; but it is worth noting 
that, in the absence of a word like 'when' the Japanese 
idiom is 

niwa tori no naku toki ni 

he set forth when the cock 

Here there is no concord of tenses. In some cases the tense 
of a verb in a relative sentence is expressed periphrastically, 

tori no naku (or naita) no- 
chi ni dekaketa 

he set forth after the cock 


2. Place. Limitation as to place is expressed by particles, 
adverbs, or adverbial phrases. The simplest case is that of 
the particle ni, which is a locative particle in 

niwa ni aruku to walk in the garden 

All adverbial locutions concerning place must be brought 
into relation with the verb by this or a similar particle, as in 

Kyoto ye kaeru to return to Kyoto 

yeda yori ochiru to fall from a branch 

urni kara deru to come out of the sea 

3. Manner. This category includes all modifications by 
means of adverbial forms, which have been described under 
Adverbs. For convenience a few typical forms are shown 
here : 

kaku mosu he speaks thus 

yoku neru sleeps well 

hageshiku fuku blows hard 

naku naku kaeru returns weeping 

makoto ni yoroshi is indeed good 

kanarazu yukubeshi must certainly go 

Japanese makes frequent use of compound verbs in which 
one element modifies the other. Examples are tobioriru, 
'jump descend' = 'jump down', mochiageru, 'hold raise' = 
'to lift up', and so on. Many such compounds are formed 
with verbs which, by constant usage, have become conven- 
tional suffixes. Such are au, 'to meet', komu, 'to press', 
yoseru, 'to approach' (trans.), yoru, 'to approach' (intrans.), 
tsukeru, ' to put or fix '. Instances of their use in composition 
are verbs like 

irekomu, 'to cram' , fumikomu, 'to rush in', sashikomu, 'to 
thrust in', norikomu, 'to get aboard', mikomu, 'to esti- 
mate', noriau, ' to ride together ' (noriai is an ' omnibus ') , 
tsuriau, 'to balance', kakeau, 'to consult', ukeau, 'to 
guarantee', uketsukeru, 'to accept', kakitsukeru, 'to 
write down', uchitsukeru, 'to fasten down', &c. 

By means such as these Japanese can express a number of 
ideas for which in English we have to resort to syntactical 

4. Object. In an elementary proposition in Japanese, 
word order is often sufficient to indicate the object of a verb ; 


but where necessary for precision, emphasis or euphony, the 
direct object is usually marked by the particle wo. Thus : 

kariudo ga inu wo utsu the hunter beats the dog 
kaze ki wo taosu the wind blows down the tree 

Where the object is represented by a substantival group, wo 
is invariably used, as in 

yo no fukuru wo matsu to wait until night falls 

kaku teki no chikaku semeki- they did not know that the 

tarishi wo shirazu enemy's attack had come so 

inochi no mijikaki wo wasure- he has forgotten that life is 

tari short 

Where the verb is one of the group 'to say', 'to think', 'to 
feel', &c. (v. under Particles, to), the particle to is used in 
reporting what is thought, said, &c. E. g. : 

nai to moshimasu he says there are none 
yukan to omoiki he thought he would go 

The indirect object is marked by the particle ni, as in 

sensei wa seito ni moji wo the master teaches the pupils 

oshieru their letters 

Shi ni michi wo tou he asks the Master the Way 

Yoritomo wa Yoshitsune ni Yoritomo causes Yoshitsune 

Yoshinaka wo semeshimu to attack Yoshinaka 

Causative verbs have strictly speaking two objects, both 
direct — the object of the causation and the object of the act 
caused ; but wo cannot be used for both objects without 
ambiguity, and the following idiom is often resorted to : 

Yoritomo wa Yoshitsune wo shite Yoshinaka wo semeshimu 
which has the same meaning as the above sentence. 

5. Agent or Instrument. If the agent or instrument of an 
act is named, it can in simple cases be designated by ni : 

Yoshinaka wa Yoshitsune ni Yoshinaka is attacked by 
semeraru Yoshitsune 

hitote ni shinuru to die by another's hand 

ame ni koromo wo nurasu to get one's dress wetted by 

the rain 

but, owing to the variety of functions which ni performs, 

3*70 T £ 


there is often some danger of ambiguity, and alternative 
locutions are generally preferred. Thus : 

June nite kawa wo wataru crosses a stream by boat 

where June ni would mean 'in a boat'. The modern collo- 
quial equivalent of nite is de, so that we have katana de kiru, 
' to cut with a knife '. Other equivalents of the instrumental 
particle ni are shite, as in fumi shite iii, 'to say by letter', 
an archaic idiom ; and phrasal combinations like motte or wo 
mochite, 'by means of, ni yorite, 'depending on', no tame ni, 
'on account of — all of which can as a rule be rendered in 
English by the single word 'by'. 

Where several modifications of the predicate are stated, 
they are stated in series, and since they must be in adverbial 
forms or adverbial phrases, the question of conjunction does 
not arise. Thus : 

katabuku koto naku ugoku ko- we will reign without bend- 
to naku watarinamu (Res.) ing and without moving(the 


ugoku koto naku shidzuka ni without moving and quietly 
(arashimuru) (Res.) 

Where in an English sentence two or more acts or states are 
predicated of the same subject, the Japanese idiom prefers 
the use of the adverbial forms for all but the last of the 
sequence. Thus, instead of 'this stone is black and hard', 
we have kono ishi wa kuroku katashi. Similarly : 

meko mireba kanashiku megu- when I look on her I am sad 

shi (M.) and tender 

megumitamai osametamai wa- we will love and reward and 

sure tamawaji (Res.) not forget them 

There are, however, in the earlier language, cases of simple 
juxtaposition, as in 

nochi no hotoke ni yuzuri- we will reverently bequeath 
matsuramu sasagemosamu and humbly offer to later 
(Bussoku) Buddhas 

The absence of a conjunction corresponding to 'and' in 
such a sentence as ' he walks and talks ' accounts for a num- 
ber of idiomatic usages in Japanese. In the written language 
we might have aruki mo sureba hanashi mo shimasu ; or 


ayumi katsu kataru, which is a construction modelled on 
Chinese {katsu = _g.) . In the standard speech the equivalent 
is aruki mo shimasu shi hanashi mo shimasu, or aruitari hana- 
shitari shimasu. 

VI. Modification of the Copula. The simplest case is that 
of a proposition where ' A is B ' is modified so as to become 
'A is probably B\ or even 'A is not B'. In the first case 
the modification is effected in Japanese by the use of adverbs 
analogous to 'probably', such as kedashi, kanarazu, tabun, 
&c. But the verb in Japanese has flexional forms which can 
serve the same purpose, as 

(1) kore wa ningen nari this is a man 

(2) kore wa ningen naran this probably is a man 

(3) kore wa ningen narinu this is a man 

(4) kore wa ningen ni arazu this is not a man 

It is true that (2) and (3) have developed a tense-significance, 
but strictly speaking they differ from forms like yukaru and 
yukasu, which are independent words representing indepen- 
dent ideas, while yukamu, yukinu, and yukazu represent dif- 
ferent ' aspects ' of one idea. This is clear from the fact that 
we can construct the forms yukasazu, yukarezu, yukasamu, 
yukarinu, but not forms like yukamazu or yukinasu. 

Modifications of the copula, therefore, are usually made by 
means of the verb suffixes, which have been already fully 
described. It is therefore unnecessary to mention here any 
but a few special locutions which seem to be characteristic. 

One noteworthy feature of Japanese is that both the verb 
and the adjective have special negative forms, as yokanu, 
' does not go ', yokaranu, ' is not good '. The form yokaranu, 
it is true, contains the verb aru, but there is a true negative 
adjective, in the word nashi, so that we have 

kane nashi, ' there is no money ' 

kane no naki toki, ' times when there is no money ' 

kane naku, ' there not being money ' 

Certain ideas which in English are expressed by auxiliary 
verbs are in Japanese expressed by special devices, as follows: 

■ Can '. In addition to the potential form of verbs, such as 
yukaruru, 'to be able to go', we can use, for instance, 


yuku koto go dekiru lit . 'go-thing comes forth' , i . e . can go 
yuki-eru lit. 'obtain going', i.e. can go 

and, in the negative, phrases like yukiatawazu, yukikaneru, 
and yuku wo ezu. 

' Must '. This idea can be conveyed by the auxiliary adjec- 
tive beshi, as myukubeshi, 'must go '. But a double negative 
is often used, as in yukanakereba narimasenu, lit. 'if not go, 
does not become'. 

' Let '. The Japanese causative is also a permissive, so that 
yukaseru may mean either ' to cause to go ' or ' to allow to go '. 

The passive voice, as has been pointed out, is less used in 
Japanese than in English. 

VII. Links between Propositions. It is a characteristic 
feature of Japanese syntax that the whole of a statement, 
however numerous its parts, must be made in one sentence 
whose members are all grammatically interdependent. This 
feature, which is common to languages of the group including 
Manchu and Korean, is largely responsible, as shown in the 
introductory chapter, for the great divergence between writ- 
ing and speech in Japanese, for the written language is under 
the influence of Chinese, and the syntax of that language 
exacts short and independent sentences. 

When, in Japanese, two or more propositions are stated in 
succession it is usual to connect them by some grammatical 
link, even though they are logically independent. For ex- 
ample, the two propositions hana saku (flowers bloom) and 
tori naku (birds sing) can be placed together without con- 
junction, but it is characteristic of Japanese to employ some 
grammatical device to connect them. In other words, a com- 
bination like 

hana saki tori naku flowers blooming birds sing 

is preferred to 

hana saku tori naku flowers bloom. Birds sing 

Modern writers, under the influence of European languages, 
now use much shorter sentences, but the fundamental struc- 
ture of Japanese is such that, even with the best intentions, 
long sentences cannot always be avoided. The following 
passage, taken haphazard from a modern book written in 


the mixed colloquial and literary style, will serve to illustrate 
the characteristics of the structure of Japanese prose : 

Ippan ni shiyo suru Nihon The Japanese paints in gen- 

enogu wa Meiji jidai ni iri 
zenzen soaku ni nari kuwauru 
ni hbjin ga busshitsuteki bum- 
mei wo hencho shitaru tame 
shikisai ni tsuite no chikaku 
otorite koyii no ryoko-naru 
Nihon enogu wo sutete kybre- 
tsu-naru dokudokushiki iro no 
seiyd enogu wo nomi shiyo 
suru ni itarishi wo motte Ni- 
hon enogu wa masumasu ure- 
yuki yokaranu tame ni zenzen 
soaku to nari mata wa fujun- 
butsu wo konjite jisshitsu wo 
otoshi meishb koso onaji de 
aru ga hinshitsu wa hijd ni 
ototte iru. 

eral use have since the Meiji 
era began become thoroughly 
bad. Moreover, our country- 
men, because of their bias in 
favour of a materialistic civi- 
lization, have lost their sense 
of colour and, abandoning 
the good Japanese paints of 
former times, have taken to 
using only crude foreign 
paints, of a poisonous tint. 
Consequently the sale of Ja- 
panese paints has increasing- 
ly fallen off, so that they 
have either gradually become 
worse or have lost their cha- 
racter through being mixed 
with impurities ; and though 
the name it is true remains 
the same, the quality has 
extraordinarily deteriorated. 

It will be noticed that, in Japanese, this passage is syn- 
tactically one sentence. Its several members are connected 
by means of the conjunctive forms of verbs or by means of 
conjunctive locutions, such as the forms nari, otorite, sutete, 
and the locutions itarishi wo motte, shitaru tame, yokaranu 
tame ni, &c. It is only the final verb ototte iru which is in 
the conclusive form. 

The simplest form of compound sentence is that in which 
the component parts are logically independent, as in the 
sentence hana saki tori naku. Another example of this type is 

suna shiroku matsu aoshi the sand is white and the pines 

are green 

where we have the adjective shiroku, though its function is 
predicative, taking the conjunctive form. The value of shi- 
roku is expressed in translation by using the conjunction 


'and'. The same form is used, irrespective of the number 
of components of the sentence. The last predicative word 
takes its normal predicative form, the others the conjunctive 
form. Thus : 

ante furi kaze fuki kaminari the rain falls, the wind blows, 
hatameku and the thunder roars 

kore wa kanzubeku mandbu- this must be marked and 
beshi learned 

no wa koshu shi ko wa seizo the farmer ploughs and sows, 
shi sho wa kbeki su the artisan manufactures, 

and the merchant trades 

The appropriate conjunctive form varies of course with the 
nature of the word used. In the case of indeclinable words 
forms like nite, nishite, &c., must be used, as in Ko wa otoko 
ni shite otsu wa onna nari, 'A is a man and B is a woman'. 

Certain difficulties arise where the last verb or adjective of 
a series is in the compound conjugation. In the sentence 

(i) sakura no hana wa saki the cherry flowers have 
ume no hana wa chireri bloomed, the plum flowers 

have fallen 

it will be seen that saki is a conjunctive form corresponding 
to chiru and not to chireri. Similarly in 

(2) kare wa yuki ware wa he will go and I shall return 


yuki corresponds to kaeru and not to kaeran. The reason 
for these apparent anomalies is that in these cases the con- 
junctive forms corresponding to the predicative forms of the 
final verb either do not exist or are liable to cause ambiguity. 
Thus, if in (1) instead of saki we had sakeri it would not be 
apparent that a conjunctive form was intended, while the 
conjunctive form of yukan (to correspond with kaeran) does 
not exist. Consequently compound conjugational forms ter- 
minating with the auxiliary verb art, and those in which the 
conjunctive form is absent, appear in these conjunctive locu- 
tions in their simple form. To make this point clear further 
examples are appended : 

ame furi kaze fukinu rain fell and wind blew 


kitakaze ame wo fuki samusa the North wind blew the 
wa mi ni shimitari rain before it and the cold 

was piercing 
ni omoku michi tokarishi the burden was heavy and 

the way was long 

With these exceptions, where in a compound sentence the 
final predicative word is in a composite flexional form, the 
preceding predicative words must be similarly inflected, but 
in the conjunctive form. Thus : 

ame furubeku kaze fukubeshi rain will fall and wind will 

kao wa miezu koe wa kikoezu his face cannot be seen and 

his voice cannot be heard 

The importance of this rule can be seen by neglecting it. 
The sentence ame furi kaze fukubeshi as it stands means, if 
anything, 'rain is falling and wind will blow'. Similarly 
kao wa mie koe wa kikoezu, 'his face is seen and his voice 
is not heard'. In each case there is a change of meaning. 
In the case of passive and causative verbs the difference is 
obvious, for to remove the passive or causative termination 
is to change the meaning of the verb : 

midzu wo nomase meshi wo gives water to drink and rice 

kuwasu to eat 

midzu wo nomi meshi wo ku- drinks water and gives rice 

wasu to eat 

ki wa taosare iwa wa kuda- trees are thrown down and 

karu rocks shattered 

ki wa taore iwa wa kudakaru trees fall down and rocks are 


In other words, passive and causative verbs are independent 
verbs rather than conjugational forms. 

It will be seen that though in simple cases there is no 
danger of ambiguity, this method of connecting two or more 
propositions is not always clear. Consequently, and parti- 
cularly in the spoken language, other means are often adopted 
for the sake of precision. Chief among these is the addition, 
to the ordinary conjunctive form, of the suffix te, itself the 
conjunctive form of the affirmative verb suffix tsu. Thus : 

ame furite kaze fuku rain falls and wind blows 


ni ga omokute michi ga tbi the burden is heavy and the 

way is long 

This use of te links the two sentences closely together, usually 
without any addition to their separate meaning. Sometimes 
it is true the use of te introduces a certain tense-element, 
denoting a sequence in time as between the verbs. Thus 
ame furite kaze fukubeshi may be translated ' rain having 
fallen wind will blow', and ham sugite natsu kitarurashi, 
'spring having passed summer is on the way'. But on the 
whole the use of te in such cases is formal. It shows that 
the two sentences are in close grammatical relation, and 
leaves their logical connexion to be inferred. Where it is 
desired to express precisely some logical connexion, such as 
a sequence in time, a conjunctive adverb is often used, as in 

ayamachite nochi aratame- after making a mistake it is 
gatashi hard to put it right 

The colloquial uses of te are sufficient evidence that it has 
not invariably a tense-significance. Thus motte kuru, 'to 
bring' (to come holding), and such phrases as dai ni tatte oru, 
'he is standing on a platform'. In the written language 
a sentence like 

bara no hana wa iro utsu-ku- the rose has a beautiful 
shite kaori takashi colour and a strong perfume 

evidently expresses no connexion other than a syntactical 
one between utsukushiku and takashi. 

An alternative method of co-ordinating sentences is by 
means of particles and adverbs, as in 

sake ari mata sakana art there is drink and (again) 

there is food 

sho wo yomi sate ji wo narau reads books and (further) 

learns characters 

kokorozashi kataku katsu no- his will is strong and his out- 
zomi toshi look is wide 

Such constructions are not free from Chinese influence. 

When in a compound sentence one component is co-ordi- 
nated with another, the connexion can be expressed by means 
of con j unctive particles or con j unctive adverbs . The function s 
of the conjunctive particles have already been described in 
detail, and they need be only briefly recapitulated here. 


BA suffixed to the perfect form of verbs expresses a realized 
condition ; suffixed to the imperfect form it expresses an 
unrealized, i. e. a hypothetical or future, condition. Thus : 

ame fureba idezu as it is raining, I do not go out 
if it is raining, I do not go out 
ame furaba idezu if it rains, I shall not go out 

In the first case (Perfect + ba) the condition is already 
existent, or assumed to be existent, at the time when the 
statement is made. It follows that, when two statements 
are linked in this way, there is some ambiguity, a doubt as 
to whether the second is contingent upon or merely con- 
current with the first. In the second case (Imperfect + ba) 
the condition is hypothetical. It is either a condition which 
has not yet come into existence or one of which the existence 
is assumed. Thus : 

kaze fukaba nami tatan if the wind blows the waves will 


There is some difference of opinion among grammarians upon 
the correct uses of this form. That it exists is enough to 
show that these usages are ambiguous ; and in both spoken 
and written languages there is a tendency to supplement 
them for the sake of clearness. In the spoken language the 
form composed of the perfect + ba tends to oust the imper- 
fect + ba, as in 

kaze gafukeba nami ga tatb if the wind blows the waves 

will rise 

and at the same time it ceases to express an actual, as 
opposed to an assumed, existing condition. Thus : 

undo sureba shokuyoku ga if you take exercise your 
susumu appetite improves 

although in the written language the same sentence might 
mean 'since you take exercise', &c. The latter idea, in 
speech, is conveyed by the aid of other words, as in 

undo sureba koso 
undo suru no de 
undo suru kara 

all meaning 'because you take exercise'. 

3»7<> U U 


Other methods used in the colloquial are illustrated by : 

kaze ga fuitara kana ga if the wind blew the flowers 
chiro would fall 

where fuitara is a vestigial form of fukitaraba. 

kaze ga fuku to hana ga if the wind blows the flowers 

chiru fall 

kaze gafuku naraba hana if the wind blows the flowers 

ga chiro will fall 

It is pretty clear that, although forms like fukeba and fukaba 
were originally distinct in function, they are inadequate, and 
tend to be replaced by other locutions. Thus, though it is 
possible to say ame mo fureba kaze mo fuku for ' it is both 
raining and blowing', the colloquial prefers such a locution 
as ame mo furu shi kaze mo fuku — an analytic rather than 
a synthetic construction. 

DO, DOMO (TO, TOMO) connect two propositions adversa- 
tively, as in 

hana sakedo tori nakazu though the flowers are bloom- 
ing, the birds are not singing 

The uses of these conjunctive particles are similar to those 
of ba. Thus : 

(i) do or domo suffixed to the perfect form of verbs or 
adjectives express an existent condition, real or assumed : 

kaze fukedomo fune idasu although the wind is blowing 
beshi the boat must be put out 

even if the wind is blowing, 

(2) to or tomo suffixed to the predicative form of verbs and 
the imperfect form of adjectives express a hypothetical con- 
dition. Thus : 

bwata yodomu tomo (M.) though the great deeps may 

yorodzuyo no toshi wa kiu though the years of ten 
tomo (M.) thousand ages pass away 

which are early examples, and 

kaze fuku tomo yukan I will go, even if the wind 

blows . 


hito wa miru to ware wa though others may see, I 

miji will not 

takaku tomo kawan I will buy it, even if dear 

which are late ones. In modern prose both the above forms 
are often replaced by mo standing alone, as in 

kigen wa semaritaru mo though the date is drawing 

jumbi wa imada narazu near the preparations are 

not yet complete 

where semaritaru mo is the equivalent of semaritaredomo. In 
colloquial the sentence takaku mo kawan becomes takakute 
mo kaimashd, ' I'll buy it even if it is dear '. In the colloquial 
we find also expressions like shinb tomo kamawan, ' it doesn't 
matter even if I die', where tomo follows a future. 

GA, WO, and NI. The functions of these words in linking 
propositions have developed from their use as case particles. 
It is important to remember that formally their purpose is 
to co-ordinate two sentences, and not to subordinate one to 
another. Any adversative meaning which they appear to 
convey is incidental, and depends upon the meaning of the 
components when placed side by side. Thus in 

mukashi Yorimitsu to iu hito once there was a man named 

arikeru ga makoto ni hito ni Yorimitsu who was indeed a 

suguretaru go no mono nari- stalwart excelling all others 

there is obviously no adversative force in ga, and it would 
be a mistake to translate it as 'but'. It serves merely to 
relate one sentence to the other, and is best rendered as 
shown, or by connecting the two sentences by ' and'. Similar 
considerations apply to the use of wo and ni, as will be seen 
from the following examples : 

kaku mosu wo mina hito Ina we spoke thus, whereupon 

to mosu (Res.) every one said No 

kore wo miru ni Nakamaro no upon seeing this we knew 

kokoro no . . . kitanaki sama how vile was the heart of 

wa shirinu (Res.) Nakamaro 

kogane wa naki mono to omo- whereas we thought there 

eru ni . . . Oda no kbrini (ari) was no gold in the district 

(Res.) of Oda, there is some 


Where it is necessary to emphasize the contrast between two 
propositions recourse is had to adverbs or adverbial phrases, 
like tadashi, shikaredomo, &c, as in 

bochosha wa hakama wo cha- members of the audience 
kuyo subeshi tadashi fujin must wear trousers ; but 
wa kono kagiri ni arazu this does not apply to wo- 



By subordinate sentences I mean here simply one of the 
elements which, in the form of sentences, comprise a com- 
plete statement, being either attributive or adverbial to some 
member thereof. They may be classified as (i) substantival 
sentences forming the subject or object of a principal sen- 
tence, (2) attributive sentences, and (3) adverbial sentences. 

Substantival sentences. The simplest form is a quotation, 
as in yukan to iu, 'he says he will go'. Strictly speaking, 
such sentences in Japanese are always in oratio recta, and 
the above example is a correct translation of ' he says, " I will 
go".' All such sentences are introduced by the particle to : 

hitai ni ya wa tatsu to mo se saying that, though arrows 

ni wa ya wa tateji to iite might pierce his forehead, 

(Res.) arrows should not pierce his 


mina hito wo neyo to no kane the bell that tells every one 

(M.) to sleep 

kore wa onna no kaita mono he said that this was written 

da to itta by a woman 

Of the same type are sentences following verbs meaning ' to 
think', 'to know', 'to feel', &c. : 

do nas'tta ka to shimpai shita I was anxious (wondering) 

what had happened to you 
naga-sugiru to mieru it seems to be too long 

Any sentence can be made to act as a substantive by 
giving its predicative word the substantival form, and using 
the appropriate case particle : 

sono hi no kuru wo machi they were waiting until that 
itari day should come 


where sono hi no kum is a substantival form. Further 
examples are : 

oku no hito wa onore no kokoro most people do not know that 

no oroka nam wo shirazu their own hearts are foolish 

sono konnan wa niojin no tsue his distress was as if a blind 

wo ushinaeru ni onaji man had lost his staff (lit. 

'like a blind man's having 
lost', &c.) 
kore wa hito no omoeru yori this is far more difficult than 
haruka ni mudzukashi people think 

It will be seen that this capacity of the Japanese language 
for turning complete sentences into substantival forms is a 
very convenient one. It provides a method of forming 
a variety of subordinate sentences, which in English are 
introduced by a conjunction. Thus : 

yama takaki ga uye ni because the hill is high 

kin wa iro no ki nam ga tame is gold precious because the 
ni tattoki ka colour is yellow ? 

Often the substantival nature of these sentences is empha- 
sized by the use of the word koto, denoting 'thing', in the 
abstract sense. E. g. : 

tsukaematsum koto ni yorite because you serve (lit. 'on 
(Res.) account of the fact of your 

serving ') 

where tsukaematsum ni yorite would convey the same mean- 
ing. This tendency is accentuated in the colloquial, no doubt 
because of the lack of a specialized substantival form of verbs 
and adjectives : 

June no deta koto wo shiranai does not know that the boat 

has left 
June no deta to iu koto wo shi- does not know that the boat 

ranai has left 

hito ni wakareru koto wa tsu- it is painful to part from 

rai people 

Here the written language would have June no ideshi wo and 
wakamm wa. 

An alternative method in the colloquial is to use the 
particle no, as in 


June no deru no wo matazu without waiting for the boat 

to leave 
kodomo wo koroshita no wa it was not I who killed the 
watakushi de wa gozaimasen child 

Attributive sentences. These correspond to relative sen- 
tences in English. A complete sentence is brought into an 
attributive relation with a substantive by giving its predicate 
an attributive form. The simplest type is illustrated by a 
sentence like 

sakujitsu kitaru hito the man who came yesterday 

niidzu sukunaki tokoro a place where water is scarce 

As a rule, especially in the colloquial, it is preferred to make 
the relation between terms clearer by using the particle no, 
saying, for instance, midzu no sukunai tokoro. Further 
examples of relative sentences are : 

basha no yukichigau michi a road in which carriages pass 
taki no oto kikoyuru yado a lodging whence the sound of 

the fall can be heard 
June ga deru toki the time when the boat leaves 

It is by means of locutions of this type that many sentences 
which in English would be introduced by a conjunction or 
a conjunctive adverb are linked to principal sentences. Thus : 

June ga deru toki ni kiteki ga when the boat sails a steam 

naru whistle sounds 

June ga deru mae ni before the boat sails 

June ga deru tame ni because the boat sails 

June ga deru tambi ni every time the boat sails 

chichi ga meiji tamaishi ton as my father commanded 

waga nakaran nochi after I am gone 

Of this nature are certain locutions familiar in the epistolary 
style : 

mybchb sanjd itasubeku soro since I propose to call upon 
aida you to-morrow morning 

sakujitsu sanjd itashi soro to- I called upon you yesterday, 
koro go fuzai nite haibi wo but you were out, and I 
ezu could not have the honour 

of seeing you 



A sentence can be brought into relation with a noun by 
means of the particle no, as in 

kuru hito nashi no yado 

yukan no kokoro nashi 

sono nasubeki no shudan wo 

miyako ni sumabaya no kwan- 


a house where no man comes 

I have no mind to go 

he determines the steps he 

must take 
the idea that he would like 

to live in the Capital 

Adverbial clauses. These are formed, and subordinated 
to principal sentences, by using the predicative word in its 
adverbial form : 

koe taezu naku 

it sings incessantly (lit. 'voice 
not ceasing it sings') 

I shall go to the country for 
a change, without having 
any anxiety 

Rather more difficult are constructions illustrated in 

kokoro oki naku inaka ni ten 
yd sen 

June ni norubeku hamabe ni 

miyako ni on kuruma ite mai- 

rubeku hashirase tamaitsu 
ginkbka wa kbsai ni bbb su- 

beku kbshb-chu de aru 

he came to the shore to get 
into the boat 

he sent them running to bring 
his carriage to the capital 

the bankers are in negotia- 
tion with the object of tak- 
ing up a public loan 

where the subordinate sentences ending in beku are func- 
tionally adverbs modifying the principal sentence. 

The colloquial, and to a less extent the written language, 
now prefer to the simple adverbial forms of verbs locutions by 
which the adverbial sense is reinforced, as in 

Henji wo matazu ni kaetta 

Henji wo matazu shite, &c. 
Henji wo matanai de, &c. 

he went back without wait- 
ing for an answer 


The characteristic feature of word order in Japanese is 
that the particular precedes the general. Consequently 
i. Attribute precedes substantive, as in akaki hana, 'red 
flowers', nagaruru kawa, 'flowing streams'. 


2. Adverb precedes verb or adjective, as in kawa hayaku 

nagaru, 'streams flow quickly', hayaku nagaruru 
kawa, 'quickly flowing streams', hanahada hayaki 
nagare, 'very rapid flow'. 

3. Subject precedes verb, as in ishi otsu, 'stones fall'. 

4. Object precedes verb, as in hana (wo) miru, 'to see 


It is convenient to distinguish between natural word order 
and fixed word order. Deviations from the former are per- 
missible, and can serve to convey emphasis. Deviation from 
fixed word order, where possible, is accompanied by a com- 
plete change of meaning ; but such cases are rare in the 
Japanese language, because it does not rely upon fixed word 
order alone for significance. 

The natural order of words in a Japanese sentence is 

cats mice catch 
subject-object- verb, as in neko ga nezumi wo toru ; but within 
certain limits the elements in a sentence can be variously 
arranged. The limits are set by the following conditions as 
to fixed word order : 

(1) In any grammatical proposition the verb or adjective 
forming the predicate is always the final element, as in neko 
wa nezumi wo toru no ga umai, 'cats are good at catching 
mice'. An exception must be made in the case of emphatic 
or interrogative particles, which follow immediately after the 
predicative word, as in 

neko ga iru ka is the cat here ? 

neko ga iru zo the cat is here ! 

and it should be noticed that there is no change of word 
order in an interrogative sentence. 

(2) Where in a proposition the predicate is related to the 
subject by a copulative locution (such as the verbs nari, tari, 
tosu, or their colloquial equivalents da, de aru, &c, or the 
auxiliary adjective gotoshi), the predicate must immediately 
precede the copula without the intervention of any other 
word. Thus : 

kore wa hana nari this is a flower 

kore wa tabun sakura darb this is probably a cherry 

toshitsuki wa makoto ni na- the months and years seem to 

garuru (ga) gotoshi flow past indeed 


It is not possible to make changes in word order corre- 
sponding to 'this probably is a cherry', 'probably this is 
a cherry', 'this is a cherry probably', 'a cherry this pro- 
bably is'. 

(3) Adverbs must precede the word which they modify, 
without the intervention of any other verb, adverb, or 
adjective. Thus : 

hanahada utsukushiki onna he loves a very beautiful 
wo koishiku omou woman 

Here hanahada can refer only to utsukushiki and not to 
koishiku. The sentence cannot mean 'he very much loves 
a beautiful woman'. This would be utsukushiki onna wo 
hanahada koishiku omou. 

It is obvious that adverbs of degree like hanahada must 
immediately precede the word they modify. Other adverbs 
may be separated therefrom so long as there is no ambiguity. 
Thus, in 

itazura ni hi wo sugosu he spends his days in vain 

itazura ni may be regarded as modifying the whole sentence 
hi wo sugosu, and the order is natural and intelligible. In 
hi wo itazura ni sugosu, because of the position of hi at the 
beginning, there is a slight difference of emphasis, and we 
are left to wonder how the subject spends his nights. The 
natural order places the object immediately before the 
governing verb. But in 
itazura ni nagaruru tsukibi he spends months and days 
wo sugosu that flow vainly by 

itazura ni can refer only to the verb which it immediately 
precedes, i. e. nagaruru. A similar example is hayaku naga- 
ruru kawa wo wataru, 'he crosses a quickly-flowing stream' 
(not ' quickly he crosses a flowing stream ') . 

(4) All particles follow immediately the word to which 
they belong. When more than one particle follows, the order 
as between them is fixed. Thus a case particle must always 
precede an adverbial particle (kore wo mo, not kore mo wo). 

Subject to the above conditions the positions of the ele- 
ments in a sentence can be varied for purposes of emphasis ; 
but since the functions of words are usually indicated by 
flexional forms or by particles, the language cannot make 

3*70 x x 


such free use of significant word order as is possible in 
English. In ' John strikes Henry' and ' Henry strikes John' 
a difference of order gives a difference of meaning. In Jiro 
ga Taro wo utsu and Taro ga Jiro wo utsu the difference of 
meaning depends upon the particles and not upon the posi- 
tion of the words. In the earliest language, where case 
particles were used less freely, it was of course necessary to 
adhere to the order subject-object-verb. 

The natural position of the subject in Japanese is at the 
beginning of the sentence. Elements complementary to the 
verb, such as direct or indirect objects, are therefore placed 
between subject and verb, the more important usually com- 
ing first consistently with the rule that the particular pre- 
cedes the general. Thus : 

ware nanji nifude wo ataubeshi I will give you a brush 
warefude wo nanji ni ataubeshi I will give you a brush 

But it must be remembered that in Japanese it is customary 
to single out an emphasized element in such cases by means 
of the isolating particle wa, in which case such element is 
placed as a rule at the beginning of the sentence, as in 
fude wa nanji ni ataubeshi a brush I will give you 

nanji ni wafude wo ataubeshi to you I will give a brush 

When this characteristic idiom is employed the first element 
in the sentence is, it will be observed, the subject of a logical 
proposition, though it is often the object of a verb, as in the 
first of the two examples just given. Occasionally for the 
sake of precision the construction illustrated below is used : 

gicho wa giin kore wo the president is elected by the 

senkyo su members (lit. 'the president 

the members him elect ') 

Similar constructions are to be found in early texts. 

In exceptional cases the natural order of words and clauses 
within a sentence is varied, as shown in the following 
examples : 

(i) Subject brought to end of a sentence. 
ana tanoshi konnichi no hi O ! How joyful is this day 

Nushima ga saki ni iori su I dwell at Nushima ga saki 

ware wa (M.) 


(2) Object or other complement brought to the end of a 


tsugeyaramu . . . tabi no I will proclaim my stopping- 

yadori wo (M.) place 

uguisu inu naru . . . ume the warbler departs to the 

ga shizue ni (M.) branch of the plum tree 

(3) Adverbs or adverbial clauses brought to the end of a 


saoshika nakitsu tsuma the stag cries, yearning for 
omoi kanete (M.) his mate 

(4) Vocatives at the end of sentences. 

akenikeri wagimo (N.) the day has dawned, my 


Most examples of this nature occur in poetical or rhetorical 
language, but corresponding usages are to be found in modern 
colloquial, e. g. : 

dare desu ka ano hito wa who is that person ? 
kawanai zeni ga nai kara I won't buy it — I have no 

mo kaeru no ka kimi wa are you going already ? 

kitto wasureruna ima itta don't forget what I told you 
koto wo just now 

Generally speaking, word order can be said to have remained 
unchanged since the Nara period. For reasons of style or 
euphony Japanese prose writers are often tempted to imitate 
Chinese word order. In 

sao wa ugatsu nami no ue no The pole transfixes the moon 
tsuki wo June wa osou umi on the top of the wave, the 
no naka no sora wo boat strives towards the sky 

in the midst of the waters 

we have a deliberate reproduction of Chinese word order. 

It is worth noting that in Japanese prose some variation 
of natural word order is occasionally called for because the 
normal position of the verb at the end of a sentence makes 
for monotony of cadence and lack of emphasis. 

In one respect it may be said that dependence on signi- 
ficant word order has allowed of simplification. In the col- 
loquial the distinction between attributive and predicative 



forms of verb and adjective has disappeared. Consequently 
in such substitutions as 

akai hana for akaki hana 

hana ga akai ,, hana akashi 

tatsu hito , , tatsuru hito 

hito tatsu ,, hito tatsu 

the differentiated forms can be dispensed with because the 
order of words is fixed and significant, in so far as attribute 
precedes noun, and subject precedes predicate. 


Comparison of Spoken and Written Forms 
(v. also pp. xi, 51, 56, 196, 275, 311, 319) 

THE following is a tabulated statement of the chief points of 
difference in form between spoken and written Japanese. The 
language of the Heian period is taken as a starting-point, because 
it is in this period that the divergence first becomes apparent. 
As a general rule it may be stated that the modern written 
language differs but little in essentials from the language recorded 
in Heian texts. The forms that have been retained are practically 
unchanged and (though this is an important exception), apart 
from a number of compound conjugational forms current in the 
Heian period but now obsolete, much of the grammatical appara- 
tus of the Heian period persists in modern written Japanese. As 
to vocabulary, there has of course been a large and continuous 
increase of Sinico-Japanese words in the written language, and 
a consequent tendency to displace pure Japanese words. The 
spoken language, on the other hand, shows a great diminution 
in the number of grammatical forms, and a tendency to substitute 
analytic for synthetic methods. It also adopts Sinico-Japanese 
words, but less freely than the written language. 

Language of Heian 


a are wa ware 

na nare nanji kinji 


Modern Written 

Modern Spoken 

ware ore, watakashi 

nanji omae, anata 

Numerous Sinico-Japanese equivalents such 
as sessha for ' I ', kiden, kika for ' you ' — 
more common in writing than in familiar 



kono (attrib. only) 

kore, koko 

kore, koko 


kochi, kochira 




sono (attrib. only) 

sore, soko 

sore soko 

kono (attrib. only) 

kore, koko 

kotchi, kochira 


sono (attrib. only) 

sore soko 



Language of Heian 

Modern Written 

Modern Spoken 




Demon strati ve- 








shi, sa 


kano (attrib. only) 



ano hito 

kashiko, kanata 

kashiko, kanata 

a, are, 

ano (attrib.), are 

ano, are 








ta tare 








dore, dono 

idzuko, idzuku 

idzuku \ 

doko, dotchi 

idzukata, idzura 



ono, onore 

ono, onore 



The important difference is that the spoken language retains only 
the conjunctive and attributive forms, and discards the specialized 
predicative. Taking the adjective yoshi as an example we have : 

yoshi yoshi 

yoku or you yoku yoku or you 

yoki or yoi yoki yoi 


In the simple conjugational forms the chief difference is that the 
colloquial abandons the distinction between attributive and predica- 
tive forms, retaining as a rule only the attributive. Phonetic changes 
have also taken place. A typical case is that of the verb otsu : 






In the compound conjugation phonetic change has been frequent, 
and its beginnings are already visible in the Heian period, where 
contracted and uncontracted forms exist side by side. The strict 
written language has retained but few of the contracted forms, 



whereas the spoken 

language has often 

subjected them to further 

change. The following are characteristic e 


Language of Heian 

Modern Written 

Modern Spoken 







sakite, saite 

sakite, saite 


sakitari, saitari 






omoite, amoute 

omoite, omoute 


omoitari, omoutari 



nomite, nomitari 

nomite nomitari 

nonde, nonda 

yobite, yobitari 

yobite, yobitari 

yonde, yonda 

tachite, tachitari 

tachite, tachitari 

tatte, tatta 

furite, furitari 

furite, furitari 

futte, futta 





nari (copula) 

nari (copula) 

na, as in shidzuka na 

-tari (copula) 

-tari (copula) 

da, desu 
(v. p. 220) 


Generally speaking, the tendency has been to reduce the number of 
these forms, and the process of reduction has been carried much 
further by the spoken language, accompanied by phonetic change. 
This is illustrated by the examples given below, though they are 
by no means exhaustive. The verb naku is taken as a basis of com- 
parison, and predicative forms only are given for the written lan- 
guage. The spoken language does not distinguish between predicative 
and attributive. 

Passive Suffixes. 


Causative Suffixes. 
nakasu nakasu 

nakashimu nakashimu 

Negative Suffixes. 









Tense Suffixes. 












Language of Heian 

Modern Written 

Modern Spoken 




Tense Suffixes — continued. 














nakite, nakitari 

nakite, nakitari 

naite, naita 

Many combinations of suffixes frequent in the Heian period have not 
persisted in modern prose, and those which have persisted are 
usually in the spoken language replaced by analytic and not agglu- 
tinative locutions. The following are a few examples : 






nakasetari nakasetari nakaseta 

nakazarubeshi nakazarubeshi nakanai dari 


(Only leading references are given.) 

a, pronoun, 71. 

accentuation, 264. 

adverb, 289, 311. 

adverbial form of adjective and 

verb, 94, 137. 
adverbial particles, 255. 
Adzuma-uta, 210. 
Analects, Confucian, 4. 
analytic tendencies in Japanese, 

196. 275, 311. 3J9- 
aru, auxiliary verb, 202. 
Aston, viii. 
au, verb suffix, 221. 
auxiliary numerals, 84. 
— verbs, 202, 307 

ba, conjunctive particle, 273, 329. 

bakari, 268. 

beki, beku, beshi, no. 

Buddhist terminology, 10. 

case, v. particles, 224. 

causative verbs, 164. 

' Certain Present', 131. 

Chamberlain, viii. 

Chinese elements in Japanese, 

chap, i, passim, 69, 121, 301. 
' classifiers ' (auxiliary numerals), 

colloquial, divergence from written 

language, xi, 51, 56, 319, ap- 
compound words, 122, chap, ix, 

passim, 320. 
concessive forms of verb, I97> 3 28 > 
' conclusive form ', 92. 
conditional forms of verb, I97» 3 28 - 
conjugations, Japanese, system of, 

128 ; history of, 151. 
conjunctions, equivalent of, in 

Japanese, 138, 298, 311, 318, 322, 

copula, 203, 207, 258. 

da, colloquial verb, 196, 208. 

dake, 269. 

dani, 266. 

de, colloquial particle, v. nite. 

de, negative termination, 177, 194. 
desu, colloquial verb, 220. 
diacritic marks, 8. 
do, conjunctive particle, 127, 273, 

domo, v. do. 

e-, prefix to verbs, forming potential, 

emphasis, 264, 339. 
Engishiki, 24. 
epistolary style, 61, 310. 
European languages, influence of, 

66, 300. 

foreign words in Japanese, 300. 
-fu, verb suffix, v. au, 221. 

ga, case particle, 232 ; conjunctive 
use, 278, 331 ; exclamatory use, 

gari, 253. 

gender, 69, 89. 

Gengi Monogatari, 55. 

go :{$p honorific prefix, 78. 

gotoki, gotoku, gotoshi, no. 

gozaru, 302. 

ha, adverbial particle, see wa. 
he, case particle, 252. 
Heike Monogatari, viii, 60. 
hi, adjectival prefix, 119. 
hiragana, 42. 
Hiyeda no Are, 14. 
honorific forms, 76-81, 163, 164-73, 
305. 307- 11 - 

i, conjectured case particle, 283. 
ideographic script, 2, 45. 
idzuku, idzure, &c, 75. 
imperative, 145. 

' imperfect ' form of verbs, nomen- 
clature, 97, 141. 
intransitive verbs, 199. 
irassharu, 163, 173. 
irregular verbs, 91. 
Ise Monogatari, 54. 
itsu, 75. 

346 INDEX 

/*, negative suffix, 192. 

jo jfl\ adverbial termination, 291. 

jo J- as adjectival suffix, 123. 

ka, adjectival prefix, 119. 

ka, interrogative particle, 270. 

ka, pronoun, 74. 

-ka, termination of uninflected 
adjectives, 120. 

kana, 23 ; kanamajiri, 25. 

Kan-on, 30 n. 

katakana, 42. 

kara, 254. 

Kataribe, 14. 

ke, adjectival prefix, 119. 

ke, termination of uninflected ad- 
jectives, 120. 

-kemu, compound future suffix, 184. 

-keraku, -keramashi, 186. 

-kere, perfect form of adjectives, 

-keri, compound tense suffix, 185. 

ki, tense suffix, 182 ; adjectival 
prefix, 118. 

ko, adverbial termination 5£ 291. 

ko, pronoun, 73. 

kore, pronoun, 73. 

Kojiki, ix, 15. 

Kokinshu, x ; Preface to, 55. 

koso, adverbial particle, 255. 

kudasaru, 163. 

Kyujiki, 14. 

logographic script, 2, 45. 
Luchuan, vii, 1, 143, 152. 

ma, prefix, 118. 

made, 255, 269. 

-maji, -majiki, no. 

Makura no Soshi, x. 

Manyogana, 23. 

Manyoshu, 23 and passim. 

-mashi, tense suffix, 190. 

-me, perfect form of future suffix, 

meri, tense suffix, 188. 

mesu, 166. 

mi, honorific, 118. 

-mi, suffix, 294. 

' Mixed Phonetic Script', 25. 

mo, adverbial particle, 263 ; con- 
junctive use, 199, 273, 280. 

Motoori, 17. 

na, exclamatory particle, 282. 
na, pronoun, 71. 

nado, 269. 

nagara, 254, 269. 

nai, colloquial negative, 194. 

nakatta, colloquial negative, 195. 

namo, namu, v. nan. 

nan, particle, 266 ; rule of syntax 
regarding, 265 ; etymology, 181. 

nanda, colloquial negative, 195. 

nani, interrogative, 74. 

nanji, 73. 

nare, pronoun, 71. 

nari, naru, 207. 

nasaru, 163. 

nasu, 167. 

ne, imperative of tense suffix nu, 
180 ; exclamatory particle, 286. 

negative forms in speech and writing, 

ni, case particle, 238-45 ; conjunc- 
tive, 276. 

ni jij| adverbial termination, 291. 

nigori, 48. 

Nihongi, ix, 13, 23. 

nii, adjectival prefix, 119. 

-niki, compound tense suffix, 183. 

ni oite, ni okeru, 243. 

-nishi, compound tense suffix, 183. 

ni shite, 244. 

nite, particle -f te, 208, 244. 

no, case particle, 225-35. 

nomi, 268. 

Norito, see Rituals. 

nu, conjectured copula, 207, 234, 
243 ; particle, 234. 

nu, tense suffix, 174. 

nu, negative suffix, 191. 

number, 85. 

numerals, 82-5. 

nuru, 174. 

('little'), adjectival prefix, 117. 

o (' great '), adjectival prefix, 118. 

okototen, v. wokototen. 

0, on, honorific prefix, 118. 

onomatopoeics, 288. 

oratio recta, 332. 

order of words, 335. 

oru, verb, 156. 

ossharu, 173. 

passive voice, 132, 160, 259, 314. 
phonetic changes, 109 ; rules, 49. 
— use of Chinese characters, chap, i, 

potential verbs, 161. 
pronouns, chap, ii and p. 305. 



ra, termination of uninflected ad- 
jectives, 121. 

ra, exclamatory particle, 284. 

ra, suffix, 86, 124, 295. 

-ramu, tense suffix, 189. 

-rashi, tense suffix, 189 ; adjectival 
termination, 124. 

reduplication, 132, 133, 296. 

relative pronoun, Japanese, equiva- 
lents for, 81. 

rescripts, 24. 

rituals, 24. 

sa, suffix forming nouns, 293. 

sa, adjectival prefix, 119. 

sae, 266. 

safurafu v. soro. 

Sandai Jitsuroku, 53. 

Sanskrit words, 10, 301. 

Satow, viii. 

senjimon, 4. 

seri, 212. 

-shi, tense suffix, 184. 

shi, pronoun, 71, 73, 74. 

shi, emphatic particle, 283. 

shika, particle, 269. 

shika, perfect of tense suffix hi, 185. 

shiki, adjectival termination, 125. 

shimuru, causative suffix, 164. 

Shinto rituals, 24. 

Shoku Nihongi, ix, 24. 

50, pronoun, 77. 

soro, 220, 309. 

spoken language v. colloquial. 

' stem ' of Japanese verbs, 46, 137. 

su, adjectival prefix, 119. 

su, auxiliary verb, v . suru. 

substantival forms in -ku, 147. 

substantives, 70, 304. 

sura, 266. 

suru, auxiliary verb, 214. 

' suspensive ' form, 106, 139. 

syllabary, 46. 

ta, adjectival prefix, 119. 

ta, pronoun, 74. 

-ta, colloquial preterite suffix, 179. 

tabu, verb, 129, 222. 

Taketori Monogatari, 54. 

-taki, desiderative, no. 

tamau, 221 n., 222. 

tare, pronoun, v. ta, 74. 

tari, tense suffix, 177, 211, 212. 

tari (to+ari), 206, 249. 

taru v. tari. 

-tashi v. -taki. 

te, gerundial suffix, 175. 

teki, adjectival suffix, 123. 

teniwoha, 8 n., 223. 

tense in Japanese verbs, 131, 173, 

Thousand Character Classic, 4. 
to, case particle, 245 ; conjunctive 

particle, 275. 
To-in, 30 n. 
tomo, 275. 

Tosa Niki (or Nikki), 55. 
to shite, to su, 250. 
tote, 251. 

transitive verbs, 199. 
transliteration of Japanese words, 

tsu, case particle, 235. 
tsu, tense suffix, 174. 
tsure, perfect form of tense suffix, 

tsutsu, 297. 

uru, forming passive and potential 
verbs, 162. 

wa, pronoun, 71. 
wa, adverbial particle. 
wagakusha, 66. 
Wangin (Wani), 13. 
ware, 71. 

wo, particle, exclamatory, 281 ; 
concessive, 199, 279, 331 ; case, 


woba, 238. 
wo koto ten, 9. 
womotte, 238. 
woshite, 238. 

ya, vocative, 280 ; interrogative, 
270 ; rule of syntax regarding, 

Yamada, viii. 

ye, particle=Ae or e, 252. 

ye, exclamatory, 284. 

yo, exclamatory, 282. 

yori, particle, 252 ; conjunctive use, 

yu, particle, 253. 
yue, 253. 
yu-ru, passive termination, 159. 

-zari, compound negative suffix, 

zo, particle, 255, 258, 264 ; rule of 

syntax regarding, 135, 265. 
zu, negative suffix, 191. 





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